Parkinson's disease is a type of neurological disorder that leads to tremor, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, movement, balance, and coordination. Parkinson's symptoms generally begin slowly and get worse over time. In its early stage, the individual show less or no symptoms. As the disease progresses further, people may have difficulty walking and talking. The disorder begins to affect mental and behavioural changes, difficulty in sleep, memory issues, and fatigue. Parkinson's disease can happen to anyone irrespective of gender. However, the disease is more common in men as compared to women. Most people with Parkinson's initially develop the disease at about age 60 but few people with Parkinson's disease have "early-onset," which begins before the age of 50.
Causes of Parkinson's disease
The disease occurs when nerve cells or neurons in the brain region impaired or die. Nerve cells are the cells of the nervous system that function to coordinate performance and movements. Normally, neurons produce an important chemical known as dopamine. In the brain, dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter. When the neurons die or become impaired, the production of dopamine decreases, which causes the movement problems of Parkinson's.
People with Parkinson's disease also lose the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine. It is the primary chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system and manages various automatic functions of the body, for example, heart rate and blood pressure. The deprivation of norepinephrine might describe some of the non-movement consequences of Parkinson's disease, such as irregular blood pressure, reduced movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract, fatigue, etc.
Some cases of Parkinson's tends to be hereditary and a few of them can be traced to specific genetic mutations. However, in most cases, the disease happens to appear randomly and does not have any co-relation with family history. Many scientists now believe that Parkinson's disease results from a combination of genetic factors as well as environmental factors.
Signs and symptoms
Parkinson's signs and symptoms may include:
Risk factors for Parkinson's disease are as follows:
Age - Parkinson's is more common in the old age group and rare in young adults. It ordinarily starts in middle or late life and as the person grows, the risk increases. People usually experience this disease around the age of 60 or older.
Heredity - Having a close relative with Parkinson's disease increases the possibility of developing the disease. However, this risk is very small unless an individual has many close relatives affected by Parkinson's disease.
Gender - The chances of developing Parkinson's disease is more in males than females.
Exposure to toxins - An exposure to herbicides and pesticides may raise the risk of Parkinson's disease.
Head injury - People who experience head injuries may be more prone to develop Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is often accompanied by some kind of additional problems, which may be treatable, including:
Difficulty in thinking - Some people may experience cognitive problems or dementia and thinking difficulties. These usually appear in the later stages of Parkinson's disease.
Depression and emotional changes - An individual may experience depression, and sometimes it can be seen in the early stages. Getting appropriate treatment for depression can ease the other challenges of Parkinson's disease. People may also experience other emotional changes, including fear, anxiety, or lack of motivation.
Swallowing problems - A person with Parkinson's may experience difficulties with swallowing as the disease headways. Saliva may accumulate in the mouth due to poor swallowing.
Eating and chewing problems - Late-stage Parkinson's disease has a consequence in the muscles of the mouth, making chewing difficult. This can result in choking and poor nutrition.
Bladder problems - Being unable to control urine or difficulty in urination is also a complication of Parkinson's disease.
Constipation - Many people with Parkinson's disease experience constipation due to a slower digestive tract.
Sleep disorders - People with Parkinson's disease often face problems in their sleeping habits. This includes waking up frequently throughout the night, falling asleep in the daytime, and waking up early.
Blood pressure changes - An individual may feel dizzy or lightheaded due to sudden fall in blood pressure. This condition is known as orthostatic hypotension.
Smell dysfunction - People with Parkinson's may have problems with their sense of smell. They may feel difficulty in identifying the difference between odours.
Pain - Some people with Parkinson's disease experience pain, either in particular areas of their body or all around the body.
Fatigue - Many people with Parkinson's disease lose their energy and encounter fatigue.
Sexual dysfunction - Some people with Parkinson's disease notice a decrease in their sexual performance.
Some doctors may suggest certain tests to understand the disease better. PET MRI is one of the safest methods to assess the activity and functioning. F-DOPA PET CT Scans is also another method.