An estimated 10 million people worldwide have Parkinson's Disease. It is a disease that disproportionately affects men and most often occurs between the ages of 50 and 65.
However, people can develop the disease at any age. If developed before the age of 50, it is categorized as Young Onset Parkinson's.
In this blog post, we'll discuss what Parkinson's is, the criteria for Parkinson's Disease diagnosis and what treatment options are available for the condition.
If you, or a loved one, have been recently diagnosed with Parkinson's, or suspect you may have it, this article will be especially beneficial to you.
Read on for more information.
What is Parkinson's Disease?
Parkinson's Disease is categorized as a progressive movement disorder. Its nature is chronic, meaning the individual with the disorder will have it for the rest of their life.
An individual who has Parkinson's develops symptoms as a result of the degeneration and death of nerve cells in the portion of the brain that controls movement.
Because the disease is characterized as progressive, this means it starts out with a few symptoms and becomes gradually worse over time.
Classic Parkinson's Symptoms
You may know Parkinson's as a disease that causes an individual to shake. This is accurate, and at the beginning, the person who is suffering from the disease may have small and barely noticeable tremors in their limbs. Most people experience the tremors in their hands.
Tremors may range from being barely noticeable, to being unable to hold everyday items. This can make it difficult to eat and perform other daily tasks. Some people with Parkinson's also suffer from what is known as a pill-rolling tremor, in which they rub their thumb and forefinger back and forth.
The tremors may become so forceful that the individual will need help with things such as cooking, eating, using the toilet, brushing their hair, dressing and bathing. Home care services can usually help you or your loved one with these tasks while staying in the comfort of their own home. Some people with very advanced Parkinson's may choose to move into an assisted living facility.
Those with Parkinson's will experience tremors, even when they are resting.
Other Parkinson's Symptoms
While tremors and shaking are the most well-known Parkinson's symptoms, they aren't the only signs that a person may have Parkinson's. As such, tremors are not the only thing someone with the disease will have to contend with in their daily life.
Those with Parkinson's often contend with slow movement. As the disease is degenerative, over time, activities that the individual was once able to do by themselves may become time-consuming and difficult. For example, a person with Parkinson's will take shorter steps as the disease progresses. Eventually, they may have limited mobility.
Parkinson's can also cause rigid muscles. This can be incredibly painful. It can also create a limited range of motion.
The disease can impact posture and balance, making it difficult to stand up without help. It can also make it harder to stand erect. Parkinson's can change a person's speech patterns, making it monotone, soft or can cause the individual to slur. It can also make it difficult to write.
Additionally, those with Parkinson's may lose the ability to perform automatic movements. These include things like blinking, swallowing, facial expressions and swinging your arms when you walk. Some people with Parkinson's also lose their sense of smell.
Receiving a Parkinson's Disease Diagnosis
Parkinson's can be difficult to diagnose because it can mimic a variety of other conditions. If your doctor suspects Parkinson's, you may be referred to a neurologist who may perform blood work and brain scans to rule out other conditions.
You may be asked to take a drug called Carbidopa-levodopa, which increases dopamine levels in your brain. As individuals with Parkinson's don't create enough dopamine, if you see an improvement on this drug, it is likely you have Parkinson's.
Your doctor may also order a DaTscan in order to measure how much dopamine is in your brain. While this won't give a diagnosis, it can help your doctor learn more about what's going on in your body.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Parkinson's. But, you can manage your, or your loved one's symptoms by working closely with your doctor. As the disease is degenerative, however, some of the medications used to ease symptoms will become less effective over time.
There are several medications that work to help control Parkinson's symptoms and can help keep them at bay for a long period of time. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy, speech therapy and aerobic exercises in order to keep your muscles from tightening.
Some people who haven't responded well to medication may benefit from Deep Brain Stimulation. This is when your doctor inserts electrodes into your brain and a generator in your chest. The electrical pulses the machine generates can help with shaking, rigidity and moving slowly.
Helping You or Your Loved One Thrive with Parkinson's
Receiving a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis can be scary, but it doesn't mean everything needs to change right away. Many people with Parkinson's continue to live in their home, even as their disease becomes further degenerative.
Lifestyle Home Care offers exceptional services to ensure that those with Parkinson's can live in their homes as long as possible. They can help with a variety of tasks around the house to make your, or your loved one's life with Parkinson's that much easier.
Contact us to discuss how we can help today.