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Thursday, June 16, 2022
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How Do You Find Out If You Have Parkinson’s

Diagnosis Of Parkinsons Disease

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A number of disorders can cause symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s-like symptoms that result from other causes are sometimes said to have parkinsonism. While these disorders initially may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s, certain medical tests, as well as response to drug treatment, may help to distinguish them from Parkinson’s. Since many other diseases have similar features but require different treatments, it is important to make an exact diagnosis as soon as possible.

There are currently no blood or laboratory tests to diagnose nongenetic cases of Parkinson’s disease. Diagnosis is based on a person’s medical history and a neurological examination. Improvement after initiating medication is another important hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

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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.

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What Causes Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons disease occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra become impaired or die. These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical that helps the cells of the brain communicate . When these nerve cells become impaired or die, they produce less dopamine. Dopamine is especially important for the operation of another area of the brain called the basal ganglia. This area of the brain is responsible for organizing the brains commands for body movement. The loss of dopamine causes the movement symptoms seen in people with Parkinsons disease.

People with Parkinsons disease also lose another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This chemical is needed for proper functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. This system controls some of the bodys autonomic functions such as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Loss of norepinephrine causes some of the non-movement-related symptoms of Parkinsons disease.

Scientists arent sure what causes the neurons that produce these neurotransmitter chemicals to die.

Causes Of Parkinsons Disease

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At present, we do not know the cause of Parkinsons disease. In most people there is no family history of Parkinsons Researchers worldwide are investigating possible causes, including:

  • environmental triggers, pesticides, toxins, chemicals
  • genetic factors
  • combinations of environment and genetic factors
  • head trauma.

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What Does End Stage Parkinson’s Look Like

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Mood And Mental Problems

  • Deal with depression. If you are feeling sad or depressed, ask a friend or family member for help. If these feelings don’t go away, or if they get worse, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to suggest someone for you to talk to. Or your doctor may give you medicine that will help.
  • Deal with . Dementia is common late in Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms may include confusion and memory loss. If you notice that you are confused a lot or have trouble thinking clearly, talk to your doctor. There are medicines that can help dementia in people with Parkinson’s disease.

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How Do You Know If You Have Parkinson’s

In order to really know if you have Parkinsons you need to be diagnosed. The process of diagnosis usually begins with you contacting yourfamily doctor who will usually refer you to a neurologist or geriatrician.

The neurologist will take the history of the development of the symptoms from you and conduct a neurological exam.

You might also be recommended to take some lab tests that will help determine if you have a different condition that may be similar toParkinsons, but really is not.

For example, there are tremors that are not related to Parkinsons.

There is still no one specific test that helps in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Diagnosis comes from being examined by your neurologist and byruling out other possible causes for your symptoms.

What made my mom decide to go to the doctor originally was the tremor she was experiencing in her right hand. Obviously, she knew this was not”normal” so she went to get it checked out.

Unfortunately at the time , the doctor dismissed it because he said she was too young to have Parkinsons .

Nowadays though, Early-Onset Parkinsons is well known to doctors so she probably would have been diagnosed much sooner .

Though she did not realize it at the time, there were other additional symptoms that she was experiencing before her diagnosis that were thefirst signs of Parkinsons.

She did not know that these were linked to her having the disease until after she started learning about the signs and symptoms, after herdiagnosis.

How Does Alcohol Affect Parkinsons Symptoms

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In general, alcohol can be harmful to people with chronic conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , overconsuming alcohol can be a long-term risk factor for a weakened immune system, learning and memory problems, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and various types of cancer. When looking specifically at Parkinsons symptoms, however, reports differ on how alcohol and PD may be linked.

The type of alcoholic beverage consumed may affect whether drinking has an impact on PD. A 2013 study found that the risk for developing Parkinson’s disease appeared to increase depending on the amount of liquor consumed, although no link was conclusively found between drinking wine and the development of PD.

In terms of how long-term alcohol use affects the risk of PD, one study published in 2013 followed people who had been admitted to the hospital with alcohol use disorders for up to 37 years. The study authors found that a history of alcohol abuse increased the risk of admission into the hospital for Parkinsons for both men and women. The study authors suggested that chronically drinking too much alcohol can have neurotoxic effects on dopamine, the neurotransmitter in the brain that is relevant to Parkinson’s disease.

There may also be factors other than observable symptoms such as how alcohol interacts with your medication that are important to consider when making decisions about your lifestyle and drinking habits.

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Complementary And Alternative Therapies

Some people with Parkinson’s disease find complementary therapies help them feel better. Many complementary treatments and therapies claim to ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

However, there’s no clinical evidence they’re effective in controlling the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Most people think complementary treatments have no harmful effects. However, some can be harmful and they shouldn’t be used instead of the medicines prescribed by your doctor.

Some types of herbal remedies, such as St John’s wort, can interact unpredictably if taken with some types of medication used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

If you’re considering using an alternative treatment along with your prescribed medicines, check with your care team first.

What Medications Are Used To Treat Parkinsons Disease

Medications are the main treatment method for patients with Parkinsons disease. Your doctor will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan best suited for you based on the severity of your disease at the time of diagnosis, side effects of the drug class and success or failure of symptom control of the medications you try.

Medications combat Parkinsons disease by:

  • Helping nerve cells in the brain make dopamine.
  • Mimicking the effects of dopamine in the brain.
  • Blocking an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the brain.
  • Reducing some specific symptoms of Parkinsons disease.

Levodopa: Levodopa is a main treatment for the slowness of movement, tremor, and stiffness symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine, which replenishes the low amount found in the brain of persons with Parkinsons disease. Levodopa is usually taken with carbidopa to allow more levodopa to reach the brain and to prevent or reduce the nausea and vomiting, low blood pressure and other side effects of levodopa. Sinemet® is available in an immediate release formula and a long-acting, controlled release formula. Rytary® is a newer version of levodopa/carbidopa that is a longer-acting capsule. The newest addition is Inbrija®, which is inhaled levodopa. It is used by people already taking regular carbidopa/levodopa for when they have off episodes .

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Parkinson’s Disease Diet And Nutrition

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Malnutrition and weight maintenance is often an issue for people with Parkinson’s disease. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy weight.

  • Weigh yourself once or twice a week, unless your doctor recommends weighing yourself often. If you are taking diuretics or steroids, such as prednisone, you should weigh yourself daily.
  • If you have an unexplained weight gain or loss , contact your doctor. He or she may want to modify your food or fluid intake to help manage your condition.
  • Avoid low-fat or low-calorie products. . Use whole milk, whole milk cheese, and yogurt.

Surgery For People With Parkinsons Disease

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Deep brain stimulation surgery is an option to treat Parkinsons disease symptoms, but it is not suitable for everyone. There are strict criteria and guidelines on who can be a candidate for surgery, and this is something that only your doctor and you can decide. Surgery may be considered early or late in the progression of Parkinsons. When performing deep-brain stimulation surgery, the surgeon places an electrode in the part of the brain most effected by Parkinsons disease. Electrical impulses are introduced to the brain, which has the effect of normalising the brains electrical activity reducing the symptoms of Parkinsons disease. The electrical impulse is introduced using a pacemaker-like device called a stimulator. Thalamotomy and pallidotomy are operations where the surgeon makes an incision on part of the brain. These surgeries aim to alleviate some forms of tremor or unusual movement, but they are rarely performed now.

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New Diagnostic Standards For Parkinsons

Until recently, the gold-standard checklist for diagnosis came from the U.K.s Parkinsons Disease Society Brain Bank. It was a checklist that doctors followed to determine if the symptoms they saw fit the disease. But thats now considered outdated. Recently, new criteria from the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society have come into use. This list reflects the most current understanding of the condition. It allows doctors to reach a more accurate diagnosis so patients can begin treatment at earlier stages.

What Is The Prognosis And Life Expectancy For Parkinson’s Disease

    The severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms and signs vary greatly from person to peson, and it is not possible to predict how quickly the disease will progress. Parkinson’s disease itself is not a fatal disease, and the average life expectancy is similar to that of people without the disease. Secondary complications, such as pneumonia, falling-related injuries, and choking can lead to death. Many treatment options can reduce some of the symptoms and prolong the quality of life.

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    Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

    Parkinson’s disease has four main symptoms:

    • Tremor in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
    • Stiffness of the limbs and trunk
    • Slowness of movement
    • Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls

    Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking urinary problems or constipation skin problems and sleep disruptions.

    Symptoms of Parkinsons and the rate of progression differ among individuals. Sometimes people dismiss early symptoms of Parkinson’s as the effects of normal aging. In most cases, there are no medical tests to definitively detect the disease, so it can be difficult to diagnose accurately.

    Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are subtle and occur gradually. For example, affected people may feel mild tremors or have difficulty getting out of a chair. They may notice that they speak too softly, or that their handwriting is slow and looks cramped or small. Friends or family members may be the first to notice changes in someone with early Parkinson’s. They may see that the person’s face lacks expression and animation, or that the person does not move an arm or leg normally.

    People with Parkinson’s often develop a parkinsonian gait that includes a tendency to lean forward, small quick steps as if hurrying forward, and reduced swinging of the arms. They also may have trouble initiating or continuing movement.

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    The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors or trembling difficulty maintaining balance and coordination trouble standing or walking stiffness and general slowness.

    Over time, a person with Parkinson’s may have trouble smiling, talking, or swallowing. Their faces may appear flat and without expression, but people with Parkinson’s continue to have feelings even though their faces don’t always show it. Sometimes people with the disease can have trouble with thinking and remembering too.

    Because of problems with balance, some people with Parkinson’s fall down a lot, which can result in broken bones. Some people with Parkinson’s may also feel sad or depressed and lose interest in the things they used to do.

    The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear gradually and get worse over time. But because Parkinson’s disease usually develops slowly, most people who have it can live a long and relatively healthy life.

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    What Organs Does Parkinson Disease Affect

    Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative, progressive disorder that affects nerve cells in deep parts of the brain called the basal ganglia and the substantia nigra. Nerve cells in the substantia nigra produce the neurotransmitter dopamine and are responsible for relaying messages that plan and control body movement.

    Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease

    Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra.

    Nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a messenger between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and co-ordinate body movements.

    If these nerve cells die or become damaged, the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced. This means the part of the brain controlling movement can’t work as well as normal, causing movements to become slow and abnormal.

    The loss of nerve cells is a slow process. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually only start to develop when around 80% of the nerve cells in the substantia nigra have been lost.

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    Can Parkinsons Disease Be Prevented

    Unfortunately, no. Parkinsons disease is long-term disease that worsens over time. Although there is no way to prevent or cure the disease , medications may significantly relieve your symptoms. In some patients especially those with later-stage disease, surgery to improve symptoms may be an option.

    What Is And Isn’t Parkinson’s Disease

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    I am often asked if Parkinson’s Disease is a form of Alzheimers. Parkinson’s is not Alzheimers, ALS or a brain tumor, and the prognosis for Parkinson’s, though not a perfect scenario, leaves room to live a productive life.

    PD is a progressive and chronic neurological disease that often begins with mild symptoms that advance gradually over time. Symptoms can be so subtle in the early stages that they go unnoticed, leaving the disease undiagnosed for years. For patients with Parkinson’s, there is a reduction in the body chemical dopamine, which controls movement and mood so simple activities like walking, talking and writing can be impacted.

    Due to the complexity of PD, diagnosis is based on a variety of factors. The best diagnosis is made by an expert doing a careful history and exam followed by tracking responses to therapy. There is no blood or laboratory test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease.

    While Parkinson’s reaches all demographics, the majority of people with PD are age 60 or older. Men and people with a family history of the disease have an increased risk.

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    What Are The Symptoms

    Each person is affected differently by Parkinsons disease and no two people will experience exactly the same symptoms. The impact of Parkinsons disease can be unpredictable and it is common for people to have good days and bad days.

    The main symptoms of Parkinsons disease are:

    • tremor
    • rigidity
    • balance problems
    • problems with posture

    Other possible symptoms include difficulty initiating movement , a shuffling gait when walking, and freezing when trying to move . People might experience a loss of facial expression, speech problems , swallowing problems, bowel and bladder problems, difficulties at night and tiredness during the day. Skin can become greasy and people might experience excessive sweating. Sexual problems are common. People often experience depression and anxiety. Another common symptom is small handwriting .

    Other less common symptoms can include pain and memory problems.

    Other Causes Of Parkinsonism

    “Parkinsonism” is the umbrella term used to describe the symptoms of tremors, muscle rigidity and slowness of movement.

    Parkinson’s disease is the most common type of parkinsonism, but there are also some rarer types where a specific cause can be identified.

    These include parkinsonism caused by:

    • medication where symptoms develop after taking certain medications, such as some types of antipsychotic medication, and usually improve once the medication is stopped
    • other progressive brain conditions such as progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple systems atrophy, and corticobasal degeneration
    • cerebrovascular disease where a series of small strokes cause several parts of the brain to die

    You can read more about parkinsonism on the Parkinson’s UK website.

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