Living With Parkinson Disease
These measures can help you live well with Parkinson disease:
- An exercise routine can help keep muscles flexible and mobile. Exercise also releases natural brain chemicals that can improve emotional well-being.
- High protein meals can benefit your brain chemistry
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help your ability to care for yourself and communicate with others
- If you or your family has questions about Parkinson disease, want information about treatment, or need to find support, you can contact the American Parkinson Disease Association.
The Neglected Side Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease may not be an epidemic, but it’s more common than you might think. Approximately 1,000,000 Americans suffer from the illness, with 60,000 new cases appearing each year in the United States alone.
This neurodegenerative disorder, which is both progressive and incurable, usually begins around age 60, so neurologists believe that its prevalence is likely to increase dramatically with the graying of the nation’s population. But Parkinson’s disease shouldn’t be thought of only as an affliction of old age; it can also strike considerably earlier in life, a fact that has become well known through such prominent examples as Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali .
Figure 1. Although Parkinsons disease is normally an affliction of old age, it can strike considerably earlier in life. Three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali , for example, was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease at the age of 42, just three years after his final fight. He is shown here in a 1965 match with Floyd Patterson.
Why Do Parkinsons Patients Lose Weight
Several causes may induce weight loss. Weight loss is a non-specific symptom and could be a sign of a wide variety of medical problems, including cancer. Therefore, acute weight loss is an entity that a physician should examine to identify its cause.
Suppose the patient suffers from Parkinsons disease, and the physician does not find any other possible cause. In that case, the weight loss shall be attributed to Parkinsons.
Among PD patients, many possible causes may lead to weight loss. The reasons vary from people to people, but each one can contribute to developing weight loss. People with Parkinsons disease have a decrease in appetite, and it has various possible causes.;
- The alteration, in the sense of smell, disables them from tasting food and reducing the amount of food.
- Apathy and depression
- Nausea due to medications
Asides from the appetite loss, other possible causes go along with the motor symptoms of the disease. These motor symptoms may induce an increase in energy expenditure.
- Dyskinesias are pointless and involuntary movements that can be a side effect of the treatment with levodopa.
- Essential tremor, resting tremor, and as well as muscle stiffness can be causes of excessive energy consumption and subsequent weight loss.
You May Like: Parkinson Disease Stages Life Expectancy
Lewy Body Dementia Vs Parkinsons Disease Dementia
Diagnoses of Lewy body dementia include dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinsons disease dementia. Symptoms in both of these diagnoses can be similar.
Lewy body dementia is a progressive dementia caused by abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. Lewy bodies are also seen in Parkinsons disease.
The overlap in symptoms between Lewy body dementia and Parkinsons disease dementia include movement symptoms, rigid muscles, and problems with thinking and reasoning.
This seems to indicate that they could be linked to the same abnormalities, though more research is needed to confirm that.
The later stages of Parkinsons disease have more severe symptoms that may require help moving around, around-the-clock care, or a wheelchair. Quality of life can decline rapidly.
Risks of infection, incontinence, pneumonia, falls, insomnia, and choking increase.
Hospice care, memory care, home health aides, social workers, and support counselors can be a help in later stages.
Parkinsons disease itself isnt fatal, but complications can be.
Research has shown a median survival rate of about
Are There Signs And Symptoms Of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy That Are More Common Or Appear First
The most common first sign is a loss of balance when walking or climbing stairs. You might feel stiff, awkward when walking and have falls for reasons you cant explain. The second most common symptom is difficulty looking downward. Then, you might have a hard time finding words, freezing in the middle of walking and have forgetfulness, personality changes, increased irritability and loss of interest. Another very common initial symptom is a stare look on your face. Other symptoms that occur at first, but are less common, include slurred speech, difficulty driving and shaky hands.
You May Like: Is Parkinson Fatal
Is Parkinsons Disease Fatal
It is important to understand that PD is not considered a fatal condition. As is the case with Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia, complications and a patients comorbid conditions are more life-threatening than PD itself. For example, because Parkinsons affects movement, balance and coordination, a patients risk of falling increases as the disease progresses. Falls are notoriously dangerous and a leading cause of injury and death among older adults. Difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, is another complication that can develop at any point throughout ones journey with PD, and this can cause aspiration pneumoniaanother leading cause of death in patients.
Because a persons overall health is an important factor in how Parkinsons progresses, lifestyle choices are vitally important for prolonging both functionality and longevity. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, careful management of preexisting conditions and prevention of new medical issues is crucial.
It is important to work with a well-rounded medical team to understand PD symptoms, explore treatment options and devise a personalized care plan for improving ones overall health, maintaining a high quality of life, and preventing complications.
Do All Parkinsons Patients Develop Dementia
Dementia describes a set of symptoms that cause is a significant loss in brain function. It produces a greater impact on patients on patients with Parkinsons than in Alzheimers patients as they have to deal with motor and cognitive impairment.
Alzheimers affect memory and language in general terms. Still, in Parkinsons, it affects problem-solving capacity, speed of thinking, memory, and they run with mild cognitive impairment.
Notably, Parkinsons disease dementia is a common thing among patients with this condition. The vast majority of them may experience some form of cognitive impairment over time.
Though it is a unique process for each person, several risk factors may lead to dementia symptoms and dementia itself.
- Increasing age.
- Exposure to psychological stress
- Low education level and low socioeconomic status
Disease duration has as well a direct correlation with the development of dementia on these patients. The more time the patient has this disease, the risk of developing dementia increases.
Also, Parkinsons dementia has a direct correlation with Lewy bodies. Most people develop dementia as a progression of the disease rather than having Parkinsons and Alzheimers. Nonetheless, a doctor with a neurology specialist should examine the patient to give an assertive diagnosis to the condition.
Don’t Miss: Does Parkinson’s Cause Tremors
What Causes Parkinsons Disease Dementia
A chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine helps control and coordinate muscle movement. Over time, Parkinsons disease destroys the nerve cells that make dopamine.
Without this chemical messenger, the nerve cells cant properly relay instructions to the body. This causes a loss of muscle function and coordination. Researchers dont know why these brain cells disappear.
Parkinsons disease also causes dramatic changes in a part of your brain that controls movement.
Those with Parkinsons disease often experience motor symptoms as a preliminary sign of the condition. Tremors are one of the most common first symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
As the disease progresses and spreads in your brain, it can affect the parts of your brain responsible for mental functions, memory, and judgment.
Over time, your brain may not be able to use these areas as efficiently as it once did. As a result, you may begin experiencing symptoms of Parkinsons disease dementia.
You have an increased risk of developing Parkinsons disease dementia if:
- youre a person with a penis
- youre older
Why Dementia Is Terminal
Patients should essentially keep in their minds that dementias, including the Alzheimers problem do not only causes loss of memory, instead, they cause damage of our brain.Human brain, as we all know that performs every activity for us, such as controlling our heart rate and lungs, overall metabolism, gastrointestinal tract, along with storage of memories and important facts. This means, with consistent decline of your cognitive functions, ability of your body to stay healthy losses.
Dementia thus eventually causes negative effect in the brain and that too in such an extent that it fails to gain control of other body areas and start with shut down. Hence, it is very much essential to keep in mind that the problem is of gradual one requires many years to progress, but still it is one of terminal conditions.
Recommended Reading: How Can A Neurologist Help With Parkinson’s
What Genes Are Linked To Parkinsons Disease
Several genes have been definitively linked to PD:
- SNCA. This gene, which makes the protein alpha-synuclein, was the first gene identified to be associated with Parkinsons. Research findings by the National Institutes of Health and other institutions prompted studies of the role of alpha-synuclein in PD, which led to the discovery that Lewy bodies seen in all cases of PD contain clumps of alpha-synuclein. This discovery revealed the link between hereditary and sporadic forms of the disease.
- LRRK2. Mutations in LRRK2 were originally identified in several English and Basque families as a cause of a late-onset PD. Subsequent studies have identified mutations of this gene in other families with PD as well as in a small percentage of people with apparently sporadic PD. LRRK2 mutations are a major cause of PD in North Africa and the Middle East.
- DJ-1. This gene normally helps regulate gene activity and protect cells from oxidative stress and can cause rare, early forms of PD.
- PRKN . The parkin gene is translated into a protein that normally helps cells break down and recycle proteins.
- PINK1. PINK1 codes for a protein active in mitochondria. Mutations in this gene appear to increase susceptibility to cellular stress. PINK1 has been linked to early forms of PD.
- GBA . Mutations in GBA cause Gaucher disease , but different changes in this gene are associated with an increased risk for Parkinsons disease as well.
What Are The Types Of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
There are many types of PSP but the two most common types are Richardson syndrome and PD-like variant which means a Parkinsons disease-variant. Together, they make up 75% of PSP cases. The symptoms are similar, but there are some unique differences.
Richardson syndrome has many symptoms including problems with walking and balance, abnormal speech, memory and thinking problems, trouble controlling eye movement and an unusual wide-eyed, staring facial expression. People with Richardson syndrome also have personality changes, forgetfulness, apathy , depression, irritability and problems with attention and concentration. These are the most common symptoms.
PD-like variant consists of the above symptoms, but also more closely resembles Parkinsons disease. A tremor is the main symptom over balance problems and behavioral changes. PSP-parkinsonism responds better to antiparkinson drugs.
Recommended Reading: How Are You Diagnosed With Parkinson’s
Does Parkinsons Run In Families
Genetics cause about 10% to 15% of all Parkinsons cases. Studies reveal that the appearance of Parkinsons disease is a mix of genetics and environmental factors that induce the development of the disease.
In some families, changes in specific genes are passed down from generation to generation. Yes, Parkinsons disease can run in families, but it is rare. Despite that, if someone is positive for gene mutations directly correlated to Parkinsons disease, that does not mean that the patient will surely develop Parkinsons.
It is possible for people who inherit these genes not to develop the disease if there is no environmental factor that triggers it and a healthy lifestyle.
There are ongoing clinical trials testing therapies to treat people with Parkinsons that carry specific gene mutations. For doctors, it is essential to know which gene mutation does the patient carries.
What Research Is Being Done
The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use the knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world. NINDS conducts and supports three types of research: basicscientific discoveries in the lab, clinicaldeveloping and studying therapeutic approaches to Parkinsons disease, and translationalfocused on tools and resources that speed the development of therapeutics into practice. The goals of NINDS-supported research on Parkinsons disease are to better understand and diagnose PD, develop new treatments, and ultimately, prevent PD. NINDS also supports training for the next generation of PD researchers and clinicians and serves as an important source of information for people with PD and their families.
You May Like: How Does Parkinson’s Start Out
How Does Dementia Kill You
Dementia is an umbrella term that covers many progressive brain diseases including Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and vascular dementia, among others. Patients of these diseases often exhibit different symptoms in the early stages of the specific disease they were diagnosed with but during the late stages, most symptoms are the same.
Its a common misconception that dementia itself doesnt kill the patient but rather major health events while suffering from dementia are the cause.
While its not uncommon for major health issues to be associated with dementia, the majority of patients die from the disease itself. That is why many experts recommend palliative care for patients in the end-stage of dementia. Rather than utilizing aggressive treatments for health problems caused by dementia, which cause additional distress and discomfort while rarely extending lifespan, they recommend keeping the patient comfortable and improving quality of life.
Here you can see the actual signs to look for in the end stages of dementia.
Symptoms Of Huntington’s Disease
Although symptoms may first show up in midlife, Huntington’s can strike anyone from childhood to advanced age. Symptoms often first appear when people are in their 30s or 40s. Over 10 to 25 years, the disease gradually kills nerve cells in the brain. This affects the body, mind, and emotions. If symptoms begin before age 20, itâs called juvenile Huntingtonâs Disease and it may get worse faster.
Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. And stress or excitement can worsen symptoms.
Some symptoms are easier to spot than others. Abnormal movements may be the first thing you notice. Weight loss can be a concern at all stages.
Symptoms of Huntington’s disease tend to develop in stages.
Early stage symptoms
Changes may be quite subtle in early stages, making it possible to keep driving and working. You may just require a little extra help.
Common early symptoms include:
Slow or abnormal eye movements
You May Like: What Are The Symptoms Of Early Onset Parkinson’s
What Are The Symptoms Of Psychosis
Two of the most prominent symptoms are hallucinations and delusions.7 Hallucinations involve seeing, hearing, experiencing or sensing things that are not really there. Delusions are false beliefs that are not based in reality. In describing symptoms of Parkinsons disease psychosis, patients may use such common terms as: seeing things, paranoia, flashbacks, nightmares, false beliefs, or not being in touch with reality.8
Key Programs And Resources
The Parkinsons Disease Biomarkers Programs , a major NINDS initiative, is aimed at discovering ways to identify individuals at risk for developing PD and Lewy Body Dementia and to track the progression of the disease. It funds research and collects human biological samples and clinical data to identify biomarkers that will speed the development of novel therapeutics for PD. Goals are improving clinical trials and earlier diagnosis and treatment. Projects are actively recruiting volunteers at sites across the U.S. NINDS also collaborates with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research on BioFIND, a project collecting biological samples and clinical data from healthy volunteers and those with PD. For more information about the PDBP and how you can get involved, please visit the PDBP website.
The NINDS Morris K. Udall Centers of Excellence for Parkinsons Disease Research program supports research centers across the country that work collaboratively to study PD disease mechanisms, the genetic contributions to PD, and potential therapeutic targets and treatment strategies.
The NINDS Intramural Research Program conducts clinical studies to better understand PD mechanisms and develop novel and improve treatments.
The NINDS Biospecimens Repositories store and distribute DNA, cells, blood samples, cerebrospinal fluid, and autopsy tissue to PD researchers around the world.
Recommended Reading: Is Protein Bad For Parkinson’s Disease
What Causes The Disease
The precise cause of PD is unknown, although some cases of PD are hereditary and can be traced to specific genetic mutations. Most cases are sporadicthat is, the disease does not typically run in families. It is thought that PD likely results from a combination of genetics and exposure to one or more unknown environmental factors that trigger the disease.
The protein alpha-synuclein. The affected brain cells of people with PD contain Lewy bodiesdeposits of the protein alpha-synuclein. Researchers do not yet know why Lewy bodies form or what role they play in the disease. Some research suggests that the cells protein disposal system may fail in people with PD, causing proteins to build up to harmful levels and trigger cell death. Additional studies have found evidence that clumps of protein that develop inside brain cells of people with PD may contribute to the death of neurons.
Genetics. Several genetic mutations are associated with PD, including the alpha-synuclein gene, and many more genes have been tentatively linked to the disorder. The same genes and proteins that are altered in inherited cases may also be altered in sporadic cases by environmental toxins or other factors.
Environment. Exposure to certain toxins has caused parkinsonian symptoms in rare circumstances . Other still-unidentified environmental factors may also cause PD in genetically susceptible individuals.