Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. This progressive disease is characterized by increased muscle tone, difficulty in maintaining balance, tremors, and slowness of voluntary movements. Parkinson's disease can also result in mental deterioration.
Parkinson's disease usually begins between the ages of 50 and 80. It affects about 1 out of 10 people older than 80; 1 out of 100 people older than 65; and 1 out of 250 people above 40. It rarely, if ever, affects children or adolescents.
It is still not clear what causes Parkinson's disease. One theory is that it may be caused by abnormal deposits of Synuclein (a protein in the brain that helps nerve cells communicate).
Because ageing displays some of the same symptoms, Parkinson's disease can be, at times, difficult to diagnose. It usually begins quite subtly and gradually worsens. In some people the first symptom is usually problems with movement or a decreased sense of smell. In others, it is tremors.
Parkinson's disease is characterized by symptoms such as tremors that usually occur in one hand while the other hand is stationary (known as resting tremors) and rigidity where the muscles become stiff, thereby hindering movement. Patients tend to have retarded movements whereby they tend to move less with movements being difficult to initiate.
They may have trouble maintaining position and balance. Their posture becomes stooped and could result in a fall either forward or backward. And because of slow movements, breaking a fall with one's hands is difficult. Such patients usually experience difficulty in walking. People in an advanced stage of Parkinson's feel as if their feet are glued to the ground and suddenly stop walking. On the other hand, some people may involuntarily speed up their movements in order to avoid falling.
Since the small muscles of the hands are often damaged leading to reduced mobility and stiffness, little chores such as tying shoelaces, or combing the hair can become difficult. The face too becomes devoid of expression because the facial muscles that control expression do not move. Very often people suffering from Parkinson's may drool or even choke because muscle stiffness in the face and throat makes swallowing difficult.
People with Parkinson's suffer from insomnia because they need to urinate often.
Insomnia is common, often because people need to urinate frequently or because symptoms worsen during the night, making turning over in bed difficult. Constipation is quite likely to develop because bowel movement may be much slower.
There could be a sudden decrease in blood pressure when a person with Parkinson's disease, stands up.
There are many drugs which can help ease movement enabling people with Parkinson's disease to function effectively for years to come. But till today there is no drug available that can cure the disease. If the disease is in an advanced stage and drugs don't work or they cause severe side effects, surgery is considered.
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