World Parkinson's Day: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive, and degenerative disease which affects the nervous system.Over ten million people in the world suffer from Parkinson’s, and around 1% of them are over sixty years of age. While no established studies have been conducted for Parkinson’s disease, incidence rates suggest that the occurrence is between 1.5 to 20 people per 1, 00,000, a year. Characterised by the shaking and slowness of the body, Parkinson’s disease occurs due to the deficiency of the chemical ‘dopamine’ produced in a part of the brain known as the ‘substantia nigra’, which is responsible for the smooth and coordinated muscle movements of the body.
What are the causes of Parkinson’s disease?
- Genetic factors:
- The vast majority of Parkinson's cases are not directly inherited.
- About 3% to 5 % per cent of people with Parkinson’s report have a relative with the disease.
- People with an affected first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, have a 4 to 9 per cent higher chance of developing the disease.
- Environmental factors:
- Use of pesticides and exposure to herbicides in food products can cause neurological damage.
- Rural environment may increase a person’s exposure to pesticides and solvents.
- Consumption of well water containing metals can lead to the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?
People in the age group of 50 to 60 generally get affected by the disease. Some of the major symptoms of the disease are:
- trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face.
- stiffness in the arms, legs, and trunk.
- slowness of movement.
- poor balance and coordination.
How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed?
In order to diagnose Parkinson’s disease:
- A clinical history of the patient is needed.
- The patient has to undergo a comprehensive physical and neurological examination.
- A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the brain can be taken to evaluate for possible
- cerebrovascular disease (including multi-infarct state, chronic subdural hematoma) .
- space-occupying lesions.
- normal-pressure hydrocephalus.
- PET or SPECT scans can be considered in typical cases of Parkinson’s disease.
How is Parkinson’s disease treated?
- There are several medicines that can manage symptoms, slow down the disease tremendously, and make it easier to live with the disease. In advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease, patient may require a surgery known as deep brain stimulation.
- Exercise and good dietary habits are essential to improve the quality of life of a patient with Parkinson’s disease.
- Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy are also required along with medicines.
- As the disease progresses, some other issues that may surface are:
- personality changes.
What role does a caregiver play?
- Ensure that the disease and its ramifications have been fully understood.
- Ensure that the treatment is conducted in a smooth manner.
- As the disease progresses, ensure that the comfort of the patient is prioritised and not compromised on.
- Continue keeping the patient engaged in activities to ensure good mental health.
Dr Atampreet Singh is a Senior Consultant at the Department of Neurology, Fortis Hospital, Noida.