A neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson’s disease affects almost four million people worldwide. This disease involves the progressive deterioration of your bodily and motor functions because the dopamine-producing cells in your brain get affected.
Most common Parkinson’s disease symptoms:
The problem with Parkinson’s disease is that it is hard to say that you are affected because most of the symptoms associated with this disease are common to other diseases, as well as old age. By the time the doctors diagnose these symptoms, patients would have lost over 60% to 80% of the brain cells that produce dopamine. Here are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:
- Shaking and Tremors: This is one of the first and most common Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Starting with your arms or feet, you might find your body shaking or experiencing mild tremors coursing through your body. This happens only on one side of the body initially, and you can experience these tremors on your lips, chin, and tongue as well. Over the course of time, these tremors extend to the other side of the body. Research shows that when the affected person is physically or emotionally stressed, the tremors seem to worsen, and when the patient is more relaxed, these tremors don’t occur often.
- Freezing Of Movements: All of a sudden, you might find yourself unable to move, especially when walking.
- Muscle Rigidity And Stiffness: At the onset of Parkinson’s disease you might find that there is a reduction in the swing of your arm when you walk, mostly on one side. This occurs because the muscles have stiffened. Other parts of your body can experience muscle rigidity as well. Sometimes, you might find it difficult to move your neck or other parts of your body. Your muscles tend to hurt as well, especially when you move them.
- Facial Activity: Because your muscles are affected, you will see that your face might have a vacant expression. Swallowing can become hard, and since you lose control of your facial muscles, you might start to drool as well. Your face, as well as your throat muscles, get affected, so your speech becomes slow and softer.
- Walking And Maintaining Your Balance: People who have Parkinson’s disease show signs of losing their balance while walking as well as difficulty in taking normal steps. They usually walk with their feet close together, dropping at the waist, and shuffling slowly.
- Loss of Olfactory Sense: Since your nerves get affected, your sense of smell faces a downward spiral as well. Owing to this, the sense of taste gets affected because smell plays a significant role in taste.
- Memory loss And Confusion: Parkinson’s disease involves the degeneration of your brain cells, so memory loss and other disorders like dementia, and even confusion are common. This, however, happens only at last stages of Parkinson’s, and elderly patients are the ones who are most commonly affected by memory problems.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Men who have Parkinson’s disease show symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Also, men are more likely to suffer from Parkinson’s than women.
- Constipation: this is another symptom of Parkinson’s. This disease can affect your bowel movements, and you’ll find yourself suffering from constipation often.
Are there any treatments?
Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, but here are a few treatments that can help maintain the quality of life and increase or mimic the dopamine content in your brain. There are a few medications like Carbidopa-levodopa, Dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors, Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors, and Tolcapone. They can help prevent a few symptoms of Parkinson’s, and some of them can convert into dopamine as well.
Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure that involves the implantation of electrodes in your brain. These electrodes are then connected to your chest, next to your collarbone, to a generator. Electric pulses will be sent to your brain, and Parkinson’s disease symptoms will reduce. However, this procedure comes along with risks like stroke, brain infection, and hemorrhage.
How to take care of someone who is suffering?
Watching your loved one suffer from any disease is heart-wrenching. Parkinson’s disease is one of those diseases that interferes with the quality of life progressively. Taking care of the patient and helping them cope can make it easier for both you and your loved one.
- Make sure you keep track of all the appointments you have with the doctor, the medications and when it should be administered, and the routine of the patient.
- Keep yourself abreast of the situation and learn everything there is about this disease.
- Since movement is inhibited, rearrange the house in such a way that the patient can access what he or she needs without your help all the time.
- Support and encouragement are necessary. Many patients who have Parkinson’s end up with anxiety and depression as well. Be understanding of their situation.
- It can be a difficult time for you, so talk to a friend or a therapist about it.