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.
Drugs And Medication Used To Treat Parkinsons Disease
A number of different drugs can be used to treat Parkinsons.
Levodopa is the most common treatment for Parkinsons. It helps to replenish dopamine.
About 75 percent of cases respond to levodopa, but not all symptoms are improved. Levodopa is generally given with carbidopa.
Carbidopa delays the breakdown of levodopa which in turn increases the availability of levodopa at the blood-brain barrier.
Dopamine agonists can imitate the action of dopamine in the brain. Theyre less effective than levodopa, but they can be useful as bridge medications when levodopa is less effective.
Drugs in this class include bromocriptine, pramipexole, and ropinirole.
Anticholinergics are used to block the parasympathetic nervous system. They can help with rigidity.
Benztropine and trihexyphenidyl are anticholinergics used to treat Parkinsons.
Amantadine can be used along with carbidopa-levodopa. Its a glutamate-blocking drug . It offers short-term relief for the involuntary movements that can be a side effect of levodopa.
Catechol O-methyltransferase inhibitors prolong the effect of levodopa. Entacapone and tolcapone are examples of COMT inhibitors.
Tolcapone can cause liver damage. Its usually saved for people who do not respond to other therapies.
Ectacapone does not cause liver damage.
Stalevo is a drug that combines ectacapone and carbidopa-levodopa in one pill.
How Do I Prevent Falls From Common Hazards
- Floors: Remove all loose wires, cords, and throw rugs. Minimize clutter. Make sure rugs are anchored and smooth. Keep furniture in its usual place.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars and non-skid tape in the tub or shower. Use non-skid bath mats on the floor or install wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Lighting: Make sure halls, stairways, and entrances are well-lit. Install a night light in your bathroom or hallway and staircase. Turn lights on if you get up in the middle of the night. Make sure lamps or light switches are within reach of the bed if you have to get up during the night.
- Kitchen: Install non-skid rubber mats near the sink and stove. Clean spills immediately.
- Stairs: Make sure treads, rails, and rugs are secure. Install a rail on both sides of the stairs. If stairs are a threat, it might be helpful to arrange most of your activities on the lower level to reduce the number of times you must climb the stairs.
- Entrances and doorways: Install metal handles on the walls adjacent to the doorknobs of all doors to make it more secure as you travel through the doorway.
Also Check: Parkinson’s And Dementia Life Expectancy
Advancement In Parkinsons Disease
With the progress of Parkinsons disease with time, symptoms associated with the problem become worse typically and many new problems emerge. Despite patients receive benefits with the intake of anti-Parkinson medication the benefit fails to last for a long time even when they intake it frequently.
Most of the patients usually experience involuntary movements to make them, as looking fidgety when they intake the medicine and otherwise works the best. Hence, it is very much essential to emphasize such movements typically and do not bother about the condition of patients too much.
Other problems, which may take place with the progress of Parkinsons disease, are-
- Problems associated with balance and gait, along with falls
- Difficulty in communication or impairment of speech
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Cognitive impairment, such as memory and thinking
- Behavioral problems
Some of the problems are of very much difficult to treat with medicines. However, any experienced doctor or a neurologist specializes in movement disorder will still may provide the necessary support and guidance for patients even during the advanced phases of the Parkinsons disease.
Understanding The Neurologic Control Of The Cardiac System
Before we explore this issue, lets first learn a bit about the autonomic nervous system and about the cardiac systems place within it. The ANS is part of the peripheral nervous system, a network of nerves throughout the body. The ANS exerts control over functions that are not under conscious direction such as respiration, heart function, blood pressure, digestion, urination, sexual function, pupillary response, and much more. The ANS is further subdivided into the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. Both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems regulate most major organs. Often, they have opposite effects, with the sympathetic nervous system activating a system and the parasympathetic system calming it down.
One of the systems controlled by the ANS is cardiac regulation. Blood pressure sensors, known as baroreceptors, reside in the heart as well as in the carotid artery, the major artery in the neck. If the baroreceptors sense a change in the blood pressure, a signal is sent to particular areas in the brain. From there, the autonomic nervous system sends signals to the heart to control heart rate and cardiac output. Signals are also sent to the blood vessels to change the size of their diameter, thereby regulating blood pressure.
What Is Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a nervous system disease that affects your ability to control movement. The disease usually starts out slowly and worsens over time. If you have Parkinsons disease, you may shake, have muscle stiffness, and have trouble walking and maintaining your balance and coordination. As the disease worsens, you may have trouble talking, sleeping, have mental and memory problems, experience behavioral changes and have other symptoms.
Parkinsons Tremor: Effects On The Body
Parkinsons disease causes damage to the nerves in the brain, causing a reduction of dopamine cells and an accumulation of alpha-synuclein also known as Lewy bodies. This damage is what causes the motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease, such as tremors and Parkinsons disease gait.
Despite what many people think, the Parkinson’s tremor isn’t the most challenging symptom of Parkinson’s disease. For many, tremors are irritating or uncomfortable, but they aren’t debilitating. There is evidence to suggest that those who experience tremor as a major symptom have milder versions of the disease and live longer, though no one knows quite why this happens.
How Will My Doctor Test For It
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.
Treatment For The Motor Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
There are many ways to deal with Parkinsons disease motor symptoms, including medications, occupational therapy and lifestyle adjustments. You may find that tremors make you more susceptible to accidents such as tripping, falling or spilling hot liquids so you must take care and ask for the help and support you need.
Unlike other Parkinson’s motor symptoms, tremors can be hard to treat with medication. However, medicines can be helpful for treating symptoms such as Parkinson’s disease gait impairments, which can have a major impact on your life. The gait of Parkinson’s disease presents slightly differently in each patient. Some experience the Parkinson’s disease shuffling gate, which can make movement markedly slower and make it look like you are “dragging your feet.” You may also experience reduced arm movement while walking.
In Parkinson’s disease, freezing of gait is characterized by hesitation before stepping forward, or a feeling like your feet have frozen to the floor. Frozen gait usually only lasts for a step or two, but you will need to be careful when crossing busy streets and try to minimize your risk of falling wherever possible.
You can talk to your doctor about medications to try, as well your surgical and homeopathic options. However, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease and no way to stop the symptoms entirely, but scientists are working to change that.
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.
So What Relationship Do The Health Effects Of Parkinsons Have With Death
The adverse health effects of Parkinsons are serious, and you should work with your doctor to explore the many ways to manage your Parkinsons symptoms. However, Parkinsonian symptoms do not directly cause death, but they do increase your risk for other factors that can lead to death. For instance, one of the symptoms of Parkinsons is postural instability which leads to an increased risk of falls. Postural instability by itself will not cause death but falls can lead to serious injuries that can result in death. So, Parkinsons symptoms can increase the risk for death but will not cause death in and of itself.
This is an important distinction to make because instead of seeing Parkinsons as a death sentence we should look at it as a manageable risk factor the same way we look at dieting. A poor diet will not kill you, but it will increase your risk for developing diseases that can. We should think of Parkinsons in the same way, that if we manage our symptoms of Parkinsons through exercise, medication, etc. we decrease the likelihood of risk factors that lead to death.
The Nervous System & Dopamine
To understand Parkinson’s, it is helpful to understand how neurons work and how PD affects the brain .
Nerve cells, or neurons, are responsible for sending and receiving nerve impulses or messages between the body and the brain. Try to picture electrical wiring in your home. An electrical circuit is made up of numerous wires connected in such a way that when a light switch is turned on, a light bulb will beam. Similarly, a neuron that is excited will transmit its energy to neurons that are next to it.
Neurons have a cell body with branching arms, called dendrites, which act like antennae and pick up messages. Axons carry messages away from the cell body. Impulses travel from neuron to neuron, from the axon of one cell to the dendrites of another, by crossing over a tiny gap between the two nerve cells called a synapse. Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters allow the electrical impulse to cross the gap.
Neurons talk to each other in the following manner :
What Are The Causes
The cause of Parkinson’s is largely unknown. Scientists are currently investigating the role that genetics, environmental factors, and the natural process of aging have on cell death and PD.
There are also secondary forms of PD that are caused by medications such as haloperidol , reserpine , and metoclopramide .
Also Check: How Long Can A Person Live With Parkinsons
What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Symptoms of Parkinsons disease and the rate of decline vary widely from person to person. The most common symptoms include:
Other symptoms include:
- Speech/vocal changes: Speech may be quick, become slurred or be soft in tone. You may hesitate before speaking. The pitch of your voice may become unchanged .
- Handwriting changes: You handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Sleeping disturbances including disrupted sleep, acting out your dreams, and restless leg syndrome.
- Pain, lack of interest , fatigue, change in weight, vision changes.
- Low blood pressure.
How Does Caffeine Affect Sleep
Its widely known that consuming caffeine before bed can interfere with sleep. Despite this, many of us find ourselves sneaking in that extra coffee to get us through the final hours of a long work day only to end up unable to fall asleep later when we finally get home.
If youre struggling with fatigue during the day, a quick caffeine boost can seem like the perfect solution: and sometimes it is! We often hear about the negative side effects of caffeine, but caffeine can actually offer various health benefits when consumed in moderation. Here, well discuss that and explore the effects caffeine can have on your sleep.
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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.
How Is Parkinson Disease Treated
Parkinson disease can’t be cured. But there are different therapies that can help control symptoms. Many of the medicines used to treat Parkinson disease help to offset the loss of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Most of these medicines help manage symptoms quite successfully.
A procedure called deep brain stimulation may also be used to treat Parkinson disease. It sends electrical impulses into the brain to help control tremors and twitching movements. Some people may need surgery to manage Parkinson disease symptoms. Surgery may involve destroying small areas of brain tissue responsible for the symptoms. However, these surgeries are rarely done since deep brain stimulation is now available.
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What Causes Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells, or neurons, in an area of the brain that controls movement become impaired and/or die. Normally, these neurons produce an important brain chemical known as dopamine. When the neurons die or become impaired, they produce less dopamine, which causes the movement problems of Parkinson’s. Scientists still do not know what causes cells that produce dopamine to die.
People with Parkinson’s also lose the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, the main chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls many functions of the body, such as heart rate and blood pressure. The loss of norepinephrine might help explain some of the non-movement features of Parkinson’s, such as fatigue, irregular blood pressure, decreased movement of food through the digestive tract, and sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up from a sitting or lying-down position.
Many brain cells of people with Parkinson’s contain Lewy bodies, unusual clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to better understand the normal and abnormal functions of alpha-synuclein and its relationship to genetic mutations that impact Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia.
Medicines For Parkinson’s Disease
Medicines prescribed for Parkinson’s include:
- Drugs that increase the level of dopamine in the brain
- Drugs that affect other brain chemicals in the body
- Drugs that help control nonmotor symptoms
The main therapy for Parkinson’s is levodopa, also called L-dopa. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine to replenish the brain’s dwindling supply. Usually, people take levodopa along with another medication called carbidopa. Carbidopa prevents or reduces some of the side effects of levodopa therapysuch as nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and restlessnessand reduces the amount of levodopa needed to improve symptoms.
People with Parkinson’s should never stop taking levodopa without telling their doctor. Suddenly stopping the drug may have serious side effects, such as being unable to move or having difficulty breathing.
Other medicines used to treat Parkinsons symptoms include:
- Dopamine agonists to mimic the role of dopamine in the brain
- MAO-B inhibitors to slow down an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the brain
- COMT inhibitors to help break down dopamine
- Amantadine, an old antiviral drug, to reduce involuntary movements
- Anticholinergic drugs to reduce tremors and muscle rigidity
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Sidebar: Morris K Udall Centers Of Excellence For Parkinson’s Disease Research
The Morris K. Udall Parkinsons Disease Research Act of 1997 authorized the NIH to greatly accelerate and expand PD research efforts by launching the NINDS Udall Centers of Excellence, a network of research centers that provide a collaborative, interdisciplinary framework for PD research. Udall Center investigators, along with many other researchers funded by the NIH, have made substantial progress in understanding PD, including identifying disease-associated genes investigating the neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to PD, developing and improving PD research models, and discovering and testing potential therapeutic targets for developing novel treatment strategies.
The Udall Centers continue to conduct critical basic, translational, and clinical research on PD including: 1) identifying and characterizing candidate and disease-associated genes, 2) examining neurobiological mechanisms underlying the disease, and 3) developing and testing potential therapies. As part of the program, Udall Center investigators work with local communities of patients and caregivers to identify the challenges of living with PD and to translate scientific discoveries into patient care. The Centers also train the next generation of physicians and scientists who will advance our knowledge of and treatments for PD. See the full list of Udall Centers.