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Body Systems Affected By Parkinson’s Disease

How Is A Diagnosis Made

Understanding Parkinson’s disease

Because other conditions and medications mimic the symptoms of PD, getting an accurate diagnosis from a physician is important. No single test can confirm a diagnosis of PD, because the symptoms vary from person to person. A thorough history and physical exam should be enough for a diagnosis to be made. Other conditions that have Parkinsons-like symptoms include Parkinsons plus, essential tremor, progressive supranuclear palsy, multi-system atrophy, dystonia, and normal pressure hydrocephalus.

What Are The Early Warning Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons warning signs can be motor symptoms like slow movements, tremors or stiffness. However, they can also be non-motor symptoms. Many of the possible non-motor symptoms can appear years or even decades ahead of motor symptoms. However, non-motor symptoms can also be vague, making it difficult to connect them to Parkinson’s disease.

Non-motor symptoms that might be early warning signs include:

Who Gets Parkinsons Disease

Estimates vary, but about 1 million people are living with Parkinsons disease in the U.S. Doctors diagnose about 60,000 cases a year, most in people over age 60. Younger people can also get Parkinsons. About 5-10% of patients have young-onset Parkinsons disease, diagnosed before age 50.

About 15% of patients have Parkinsons-plus syndromes, also known as atypical Parkinsons. Medications may be less effective for these syndromes, which can lead to disability sooner.

Risk factors for Parkinsons disease include:

  • Age: Risk increases with age. Average age at diagnosis is 65.
  • Gender: Men are at higher risk.
  • Environmental exposure: Lifetime exposure to well water, which may contain pesticide runoff, can increase risk. So can exposure to air particles containing heavy metals, such as in industrial areas.
  • Family history: Having a close relative with the disease could increase your risk. Researchers have identified a dozen genes that may be linked to Parkinsons disease.
  • Sleep disorder: People who act out their dreams are up to 12 times more likely to develop Parkinsons disease. Its not clear whether this condition, called REM sleep behavior disorder or RBD, is a cause or symptom of Parkinsons disease.
  • Head trauma: Traumatic brain injury increases risk of Parkinsons, even years later.

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When People Talk About Parkinsons They May Mention The Effects It Has On The Substantia Nigra But Did You Know That There Are Other Areas Of The Brain That Are Affected By The Condition

Parkinsons is a condition that causes the gradual loss of the dopamine-producing brain cells of the substantia nigra an area of the brain located just above where the spinal cord meets the midbrain. It is these cells that produce and release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has a key role in turning thought about movement into action.

While this definition of the condition is useful to briefly explain Parkinsons, the whole story is somewhat more complex. Over the last 30 years, it has become accepted that Parkinsons also causes a number of non-motor symptoms, such as changes in sleep, smell and even the way we think, which likely involve other areas of the brain.

Now scientists are looking at the broader effects of the condition on the brain in an attempt to better understand why people experience different symptoms. The finding could lead us to new treatments that tackle more than just the motor symptoms of the condition.

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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed


Someone with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may be sent to see a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain, nerves, and muscles. The neurologist may do some tests, including a brain scan and blood tests. These tests will not make the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, but the doctor will want to make sure that there is no other problem causing the symptoms. To diagnose Parkinson’s disease, the doctor relies on a person’s medical history, symptoms, and a physical exam.

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Who Does It Affect

The risk of developing Parkinsons disease naturally increases with age, and the average age at which it starts is 60 years old. Its slightly more common in men or people designated male at birth than in women or people designated female at birth .

While Parkinsons disease is usually age-related, it can happen in adults as young as 20 .

What Can Be Done About These Unpleasant Gi Problems

Unfortunately, research studies on GI problems related to PD have been few and far between, so healthcare providers do not have any tried and true methods to deal with them. Some of the drugs to treat GI problems in people without PD cannot be used for those with PD because these drugs negatively impact dopamine systems in the brain.

If you have PD and experience constipation, it makes sense to try to use safe and simple methods to address this issue before you add new drugs to your daily regimen. Increasing dietary fiber and drinking lots of water and other fluids is a reasonable first step in treatment. If your healthcare provider approves it, you might also consider taking fiber supplements, such as psyllium or methylcellulose. If these simple methods dont work, your healthcare provider might consider giving you a stool softener or a laxative.

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Tips For Dealing With Parkinsons Disease Tremor

Because the Parkinson’s tremor appears at rest, many people find that exercise helps control their symptoms. Here are some tips to help you limit the effects of Parkinson’s tremor:

  • If the tremor presents in your jaw, try chewing gum to keep the area moving.
  • Foot tremors present when you are sitting or lying down, and they always disappear when you stand up. Therefore you should try to avoid long periods of inactivity, as staying still may worsen your tremor symptoms.
  • Finger twitching and the “pill roll” tremor refer to tremors in the thumb and fingers. You may find hand exercises such as rotating your hands, moving your fingers or squeezing a stress ball will help ease your symptoms. If you feel self-conscious about your tremor, you can always hide your hands in your pockets or place them under a table until the shaking subsides.

How Does Parkinsons Affect The Body

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinsons Disease has a big physical impact on the body, as most of the side effects and symptoms are physical. Physical impacts on the body includes:

  • Slowing of the body
  • A tremor that is often apparent when the body is at rest
  • Stiffness of a limb or the body as a whole
  • Moving at a much slower
  • Trouble walking or mobility
  • Difficulty keeping ones balance
  • Loss of coordination & balance problems
  • Loss of ability to express emotions through facial expressions
  • Difficulty controlling movement throughout the body
  • Sudden drops in blood pressure

These physical side effects of this disease can heavily impact an individuals quality of life, as well as their ability to live the same type of life that they did before their diagnosis. Technically speaking, Parkinsons will have a huge impact on an individuals physical well-being, as most of the symptoms and side effects directly impact their way of life. Parkinsons can also worsen over time for some individuals, causing their physical wellness to suffer greatly. Parkinsons can cause individuals to lose their ability to walk, sit or stand as they used to. This will impact their overall bone and muscle mass, giving their body a greater chance of deterioration over time.

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Distinguishing Parkinson Disease From Other Parkinsonian And Lewy Body Syndromes

Pathologically, PD is categorized as a synucleinopathy along with dementia with Lewy Bodies, pure autonomic failure and multiple system atrophy . The first three of these disorders are all Lewy body disorders given their Lewy-related pathology. MSA is not a Lewy body disorder as it is characterized by glial cytoplasmic inclusions. Given the pathological overlap of Lewy body disorders, some have suggested that PD, dementia with Lewy bodies and pure autonomic failure may be considered Lewy body synucleinopathies with distinct but overlapping motor, cognitive and autonomic features. Clinical manifestations depend on the predominant sites of Lewy body formation and neuronal loss. Such a proposition is far from certain, however, given that the biological significance of Lewy-related pathology and its impact on neurodegeneration remains unclear. It is possible Lewy-related pathology interferes with normal cell function or that they are the result of a protective response to cytotoxic proteins.

The clinical and pathological overlap of Lewy body disorders is still being resolved and whether PD falls within the spectrum of Lewy body disorders or is truly distinct from pure autonomic failure or dementia with Lewy bodies remains to be seen.

Body System #1: Reproductive System

The reproductive system is a combination of bodily organs and tissues used in the process of producing offspring.

Diseases and Disorders of the Reproductive System
  • Cervical Cancer Cervical cancer results in a malignant tumor of the cervix.
  • Prostate Cancer This type of cancer occurs in a mans prostate, a small sized gland that produces seminal fluid.
  • Vaginal Yeast Infection This is an infection caused by a yeast fungus in the vagina.
  • Endometriosis Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally lines the uterus ends up outside the uterus.
  • Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that may cause infertility if left untreated.
  • Erectile Dysfunction This occurs when a man cant keep or get an erection during sexual intercourse.

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How Soon After Treatment Will I Feel Better And How Long Will It Take To Recover

The time it takes to recover and see the effects of Parkinson’s disease treatments depends strongly on the type of treatments, the severity of the condition and other factors. Your healthcare provider is the best person to offer more information about what you can expect from treatment. The information they give you can consider any unique factors that might affect what you experience.

Parkinsons Disease: Causes Symptoms And Treatments

Parkinsons Disease by tokarc18

Parkinsons disease is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.

Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. They may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue.

While virtually anyone could be at risk for developing Parkinsons, some research studies suggest this disease affects more men than women. Its unclear why, but studies are underway to understand factors that may increase a persons risk. One clear risk is age: Although most people with Parkinsons first develop the disease after age 60, about 5% to 10% experience onset before the age of 50. Early-onset forms of Parkinsons are often, but not always, inherited, and some forms have been linked to specific gene mutations.

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How Does Parkinsons Affect The Mind

As aforementioned, Parkinsons can heavily impact the physical well-being of an individual that is experiencing serious complications and symptoms of the disease. However, just as an individual starts to feel the physical impacts on their body, their mental state and well-being may start to feel compromised as well. If an individual that has been faithfully running 5 miles a day starts to lose balance due to complications of Parkinsons Disease, he or she will likely start to feel depressed, anxious and sad over their inability to carry out their daily tasks.

As a seniors Parkinsons Disease starts to worsen over time, family members may start to see a shift in their overall mood and mental state. Not only can Parkinsons literally take an individuals ability to think clearly, but he or she may start to feel things that they had never felt before such as depression or anxiety. This can be one of many mental complications from this debilitation disease. Parkinsons can cause an individual to feel unmotivated to carry out everyday tasks or to put effort into improving their quality of life, as they may feel their life is declining anyways. It is important to recognize the signs of depression and mental health issues in seniors and know when it is time to step in and help them. Mental and emotional issues may start to heavily impact people with Parkinsons, as it may take away their drive and willingness to work towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.

How Parkinsons Disease Affects The Body

Life with Parkinsons is challenging, to say the least. This progressive disease starts slowly, and because theres currently no cure, it gradually worsens how you think and feel.

Giving up may seem like the only solution, but it certainly isnt. Thanks to advanced treatments, many people are able to continue living healthy, productive lives with Parkinsons.

Take a glance at this infographic to get a visual picture of how Parkinsons can affect everything from your memory to your movement.

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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Managed

Your doctors will tailor your treatment based on your individual circumstances. You will manage your condition best if you have the support of a team, which may include a general practitioner, neurologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, specialist nurse and dietitian.

While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, symptoms can be treated with a combination of the following.

How Will My Doctor Test For It

How Parkinson’s Disease Affects the Body — The Doctors

There’s no one test for Parkinson’s. A lot of it’s based on your symptoms and health history, but it could take some time to figure it out. Part of the process is ruling out other conditions that look like Parkinson’s. The docotor may do a DaT scan, which looks for dopamine in the brain. This can aid in a diagnosis.

Because there is no single test, it’s very important to go to a doctor who knows a lot about it, early on. It’s easy to miss.

If you do have it, your doctor might use what’s called the Hoehn and Yahr scale to tell you what stage of the disease you’re in. It ranks how severe your symptoms are from 1 to 5, where 5 is the most serious.

The stage can help you get a better feel for where your symptoms fall and what to expect as the disease gets worse. But keep in mind, some people could take up to 20 years to move from mild to more serious symptoms. For others, the change is much faster.

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Living Well With Parkinsons

While medication and DBS surgery are the most effective treatments for PD, individuals often choose to delay these treatments because of their adverse side effects. Until a therapy is developed that can halt the progression of PD, there is a significant need for strategies that provide symptom relief without causing negative side effects.

Diet, Exercise, and Stress Reduction

Findings from several studies suggest that exercise has the potential to provide relief from certain PD symptoms. Anecdotally, people with Parkinsons disease who exercise typically do better. However, many questions remain. Among them is whether exercise provides a conditioning effect by strengthening muscles and improving flexibility or whether it has a direct effect on the brain.

In an NINDS-funded trial comparing the benefits of tai chi, resistance training, and stretching, tai chi was found to reduce balance impairments in people with mild-to-moderate PD. People in the tai chi group also experienced significantly fewer falls and greater improvements in their functional capacity.

Technologies that Improve Quality of Life

What Happens As Parkinsons Progresses

As the disease progresses, the physical symptoms of Parkinsons become more severe and make everyday tasks more difficult.

In the third and fourth stages, movement and coordination are slowed and impaired, limiting mobility. Secondary symptoms such as voice changes, an altered sense of smell, or digestive system issues can often appear in these mid-stages . You may also suffer from anxiety, depression, confusion, or dementia.

In the fifth and final stage, the symptoms of Parkinsons result in a loss of mobility to the extent that individuals are unable to walk or live without full-time assistance. Non-motor skills also deteriorate at this stage, and a patients symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, and even dementia.

While this is a life-changing disease, its important to remember that all is not lost with new developments in treatment, prevention methods, and medication, life after the onset of Parkinsons has never looked brighter.

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How Will The Disease Affect My Life

Most people who have Parkinson√Ęs live a normal to a nearly normal lifespan, but the disease can be life changing.

For some people, treatment keeps the symptoms at bay, and theyre mostly mild. For others, the disease is much more serious and really limits what youre able to do.

As it gets worse, it makes it harder and harder to do daily activities like getting out of bed, driving, or going to work. Even writing can seem like a tough task. And in later stages, it can cause dementia.

Even though Parkinsons can have a big impact on your life, with the right treatment and help from your health care team, you can still enjoy the things you love. Its important to reach out to family and friends for support. Learning to live with Parkinsons means making sure you get the backing you need.

Incidence Of Parkinsons Disease

What Body Systems Are Affected By Parkinson

Its estimated that approximately four people per 1,000 in Australia have Parkinsons disease, with the incidence increasing to one in 100 over the age of 60. In Australia, there are approximately 80,000 people living with Parkinsons disease, with one in five of these people being diagnosed before the age of 50. In Victoria, more than 2,225 people are newly diagnosed with Parkinsons every year.

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