Parkinson's Disease - Symptoms & Treatment
It's Parkinson's Awareness Month, but how much do you know about this neurodegenerative disease of the nerve cells in the brain?
According to Parkinson Canada and the National Parkinson Foundation in the United States, when the brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine stop producing dopamine, it affects a person's ability to control their movements.
Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
Most Common Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease - Motor Symptoms
- Tremors or involuntary shaking - can affect hands, jaw, legs and other body parts
- Slowness of movement (bradykinesia) - difficulty getting out of bed, buttoning shirts
- Rigidity, tightness, stiffness of muscles - foot drag or reduced arm swing on an affected side; loss of facial expression (hypomimia) etc.
- Impaired balance or postural instability - problems with walking, balance, turning, unexplained falls; tendency to fall backwards (retropulsion)
- Decreased ability in automatic reflexes - swallowing, blinking
- Soft or low volume voice, muffled speech (hypophonia)
- Problems with handwriting - small, cramped handwriting (micrographia)
- Stooped posture
Other Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease - Non-Motor Symptoms
- Fatigue, pain, vision problems, sexual problems, loss of sense of smell, excessive sweating (primarily hands and feet), oily skin, dandruff
- Constipation and feeling full after eating small amounts
- Sleep disturbances - insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), vivid dreams, restless legs syndrome (RLS), etc.
- Mental health deterioration - cognitive changes - difficulty focusing attention, language and memory difficulties, dementia; personality changes; hallucinations and delusions; mood disorders (irritability, anxiety, depression)
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Urinary problems - urgency, frequency, incontinence
- Light-headedness - drops in blood pressure when standing (orthostatic hypotension)
Treatment for Parkinson's Disease
There is currently no cure for Parkinson's Disease. Treatment for Parkinson's is focused on alleviating symptoms.
An examination by a neurologist is the starting point for determining a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. A neurologist and medical/care team can develop a treatment plan based on what symptoms are present.
A treatment plan to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease may include medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, diet, exercise and lifestyle changes, and/or surgical interventions.
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