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Thursday, June 16, 2022
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How Does Parkinson’s Kill You

What Are Off Periods

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These off periods are a time when dopamine is going low in the brain, and when medicine usually levodopa, which is the gold standard oral pill is wearing off or not kicking in when it should be, Dr. Robert Hauser, director of the Parkinsons & Movement Disorder Center and a professor in the college of medicine neurology at University of South Florida, told Healthline.

Symptoms such as the loss of motor function can return during off periods. This can be dangerous, particularly if an off period strikes when a person is walking up the steps to their front door or is in a similar situation.

For those who are newly-diagnosed , off periods can present a major obstacle to overcome if they arent aware of the risks and the need to maintain a strict medication schedule.

How Can My Friends And Family Help If I Have Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Tell your friends and family about your symptoms. Let them know what you can and cant do. Help them understand that changes in your personality, eye contact and mood are part of the illness. Its also important to explain to them that the severity of your symptoms can come and go. One hour, you may be walking, eating and writing just fine, and the next hour you might barely be able to do those things at all.

If youre a caregiver for someone with PSP, be sure to take care of yourself, too!

What You Can Expect

Parkinson does follow a broad pattern. While it moves at different paces for different people, changes tend to come on slowly. Symptoms usually get worse over time, and new ones probably will pop up along the way.

Parkinson√Ęs doesn√Ęt always affect how long you live. But it can change your quality of life in a major way. After about 10 years, most people will have at least one major issue, like dementia or a physical disability.

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What Are The Symptoms Of The Disease

The four primary symptoms of PD are:

  • Tremor. Tremor often begins in a hand, although sometimes a foot or the jaw is affected first. The tremor associated with PD has a characteristic rhythmic back-and-forth motion that may involve the thumb and forefinger and appear as a pill rolling. It is most obvious when the hand is at rest or when a person is under stress. This tremor usually disappears during sleep or improves with a purposeful, intended movement.
  • Rigidity. Rigidity , or a resistance to movement, affects most people with PD. The muscles remain constantly tense and contracted so that the person aches or feels stiff. The rigidity becomes obvious when another person tries to move the individuals arm, which will move only in ratchet-like or short, jerky movements known as cogwheel rigidity.
  • Bradykinesia. This slowing down of spontaneous and automatic movement is particularly frustrating because it may make simple tasks difficult. The person cannot rapidly perform routine movements. Activities once performed quickly and easilysuch as washing or dressingmay take much longer. There is often a decrease in facial expressions.
  • Postural instability. Impaired balance and changes in posture can increase the risk of falls.

How Is A Diagnosis Made

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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.

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Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Parkinsons Disease

Unfortunately, Parkinsons disease has no cure and is degenerative, meaning it will get worse over time especially if untreated. Patients who suffer from Parkinsons disease often have low levels of dopamine and theres no way to inject dopamine directly into the brain.

However, advances in medicine can help manage or even control some of your symptoms. But your treatment will likely have to be lifelong.

Treatment for Parkinsons disease includes:

  • Medications to help manage or substitute the dopamine in your brain
  • Medications to manage specific symptoms such as tremors or rigidity
  • Exercise and physical therapy with a focus on balance and stretching
  • Speech-language therapy to help improve your speaking ability
  • Deep brain stimulation surgery to reduce your symptoms

A neurodegenerative disease like Parkinsons can dramatically affect your life.

  • You may become unable to work or care for your basic physical needs without help.
  • The treatments you need could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
  • You may need a full-time caretaker or family member to look after you.
  • You may become unable to enjoy certain activities because of your disability.
  • You may suffer daily pain, discomfort, or emotional distress due to your condition.

A personal injury lawsuit can help you get the medical treatment you need and hold the responsible party to account for monetary damages.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons 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. For reasons not yet understood, the dopamine-producing nerve cells of the substantia nigra begin to die off in some individuals. When 80 percent of dopamine is lost, PD symptoms such as tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness, and balance problems occur.

Body movement is controlled by a complex chain of decisions involving inter-connected groups of nerve cells called ganglia. Information comes to a central area of the brain called the striatum, which works with the substantia nigra to send impulses back and forth from the spinal cord to the brain. The basal ganglia and cerebellum are responsible for ensuring that movement is carried out in a smooth, fluid manner .

The action of dopamine is opposed by another neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. In PD the nerve cells that produce dopamine are dying. The PD symptoms of tremor and stiffness occur when the nerve cells fire and there isn’t enough dopamine to transmit messages. High levels of glutamate, another neurotransmitter, also appear in PD as the body tries to compensate for the lack of dopamine.

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Establishing Pd Research Priorities

The NINDS-organized Parkinsons Disease 2014: Advancing Research, Improving Lives conference brought together researchers, clinicians, patients, caregivers, and nonprofit organizations to develop 31 prioritized recommendations for research on PD. These recommendations are being implemented through investigator-initiated grants and several NINDS programs. NINDS and the NIHs National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences held the Parkinsons Disease: Understanding the Environment and Gene Connection workshop to identify priorities for advancing research on environmental contributors to PD.

Research recommendations for Lewy Body Dementia, including Parkinsons disease dementia, were updated during the NIH Alzheimers Disease-Related Dementias Summit 2019 .

What Are The Symptoms Of End

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Stage four for Parkinsons disease is often called advanced Parkinsons disease because people in this stage experience severe and incapacitating symptoms. This is when medication doesnt help as much and serious disabilities set in.

Theres an increased severity in:

  • How you speak a softer voice that trails off.
  • Falling and trouble with balance and coordination.
  • Freezing a sudden, but temporary inability to move, when you start to walk or change direction.
  • Moving without assistance or a wheelchair.
  • Other symptoms such as constipation, depression, loss of smell, low blood pressure when going to stand up, pain, and sleep issues.

Many times someone with advanced PD cant live on their own and needs help with daily tasks.

Stage five is the final stage of Parkinsons, and assistance will be needed in all areas of daily life as motor skills are seriously impaired. You may:

  • Experience stiffness in your legs. It may make it impossible to walk or stand without help.
  • Need a wheelchair at all times or are bedridden.
  • Need round-the-clock nursing care for all activities.
  • Experience hallucinations and delusions.

As Parkinsons disease progresses into these advanced stages, its symptoms can often become increasingly difficult to manage. Whether you or your loved one with end-stage Parkinsons lives at home, in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, hospice services can optimize your quality of life and that of your family members as well.

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A Lack Of Regulation Could Be To Blame

Experts believe that the link between well water and Parkinson’s could be the result of well water being more likely to be contaminated with metals, pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants than filtered municipal water. “Unlike municipal water supplies, private wells are largely unregulated and are not monitored for contaminants. Many are dug at shallow depths of less than 20 yards, and some of the crop chemicals used to kill pests and weeds can seep into groundwater,” explains Scientific American.

What Are The Health Effects Of Chronic Paraquat Exposure

Paraquat is a fast-acting, rain-resistant, non-selective contact herbicide, which means it kills a wide range of plants. The chemical interferes with electron transfer, which is necessary for life to survive. Low-level, chronic exposure to paraquat can cause:

  • Pulmonary problems or lung scarring
  • Central nervous system and neurological tissue damage

Neurological damage includes mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress as seen in Parkinsons disease patients. Both of these problems lead to the loss of dopaminergic neurons the parts of your brain that create and maintain dopamine. This affects your ability to control your motor movements and can even affect your personality.

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Parkinsons Doesnt Kill You

Its true that people do not die from Parkinsons, but they typically die from complications of the disease. As an example, Parkinsons can impair patients ability to swallow, putting them at risk for inhaling, or aspirating, food or liquid into their lungs, leading to aspiration pneumonia. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in patients with this disease.

Still, I fear living with a poor quality of life and loss of my independence more than I fear dying.

In the grand scheme of things, comments made out of ignorance are no big deal considering what people with Parkinsons deal with every day. Now that you know what not to say, read Sherris column on things you can say to someone with Parkinsons.

Sometimes you dont have to say anything. Silence speaks it all. Disha Patani

What Is The Prognosis

Parkinson

The average life expectancy of a person with PD is generally the same as for people who do not have the disease. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for people with PD. However, in the late stages, PD may no longer respond to medications and can become associated with serious complications such as choking, pneumonia, and falls.

PD is a slowly progressive disorder. It is not possible to predict what course the disease will take for an individual person.

One commonly used scale neurologists use for describing how the symptoms of PD have progressed in a patient is the Hoehn and Yahr scale.

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Do You Qualify For A Paraquat Lawsuit

Paraquat is manufactured by Syngenta, Growmark, and the Chevron Chemical Company. The first lawsuits were filed in 2017 by agricultural workers and farmers who got exposed to paraquat on the job and went on to develop Parkinsons disease.

Among other claims, the lawsuits state that:

  • Manufacturers knew the link between paraquat and Parkinsons disease for years,
  • The makers of paraquat failed to disclose or properly warn users about the risks, and
  • The workers wouldnt have used the product if theyd known about the dangers.

The claims of the lawsuit are based on:

  • Strict products liability The manufacturers of paraquat created a defective product and failed to warn users about the dangers to their health.
  • Negligence The companies had a responsibility to protect paraquat users. They knew or should have realized the neurological risks through adequate testing and they failed to remedy the risks or warn users against them.
  • Public nuisance The creators of paraquat knew or should have known that it would cause harm to the public if used without the proper warnings.
  • Breach of implied warranty of merchantability Paraquat as a product is not actually fit to be used as instructed because of the health risks.

As the link between paraquat and Parkinsons becomes increasingly apparent and more cases come forth, hundreds of additional lawsuits could be filed in the next few years.

How Does Parkinsons Kill You

Most of the patients that have Parkinsons disease do not die specifically from it. Please, allow me to explain better.

As it is an affection that compromises several organs, it may trigger inadequate responses in each one of them. Nonetheless, the same diseases that cause death on healthy patients cause death on these patients.

Parkinsons patients can die from heart attacks, strokes, cancer, among other causes. Still, two specific causes are very common in these patients.

  • Falls: Patients with Parkinsons disease have an increased risk of falling due to impairment in balance and posture. These falls often can be bad falls that may lead to death. Death usually occurs as a complication of a fall that requires hospitalization, mainly if it involves surgery. The most common cause of death for these patients is hip fractures. Hip surgery is a major surgery that may carry a risk of infection, blood clots in legs that go to lungs, heart failure, and others. These patients also may fracture ribs leading to an increase of lung infections and chronic pain. However, it is surprisingly uncommon for Parkinsons disease patients to die from brain injuries related to falls, but it still may occur.
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    I Have The Same Problem

    Sometimes, people respond with this statement when I comment about one of my symptoms :

    • tripping
    • having to sit down when I put on my shoes
    • losing my balance all the time
    • forgetfulness
    • inability to multitask

    I think well-meaning people say they have the same issues because they dont want me to feel alone in experiencing these challenges. After all, they can develop over the natural course of aging. Most people do not understand, however, that I used to be very sharp mentally and was a strong athlete and dancer before I was diagnosed. That makes these symptoms much more glaring for me.

    Parkinsons Goes Prime Time: Five Things To Know About Parkinsons Disease

    How can we cure Parkinson’s?

    Michael J. Fox is back in the spotlight this fall in a new sitcom The Michael J. Fox Show and spreading awareness about Parkinsons disease, a condition both he and his TV character have in common. Fox has been an outspoken advocate for Parkinsons disease research and awareness since disclosing his condition to the public in 1998.

    Parkinsons disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and may cause shaking, muscle stiffness, slowing of movement, impaired balance or other symptoms. Mayo Clinic movement disorders specialist, Anhar Hassan, M.D., says it impacts about 1 in 200 people. What Michael J. Fox is doing to spread awareness on Parkinsons from fundraising to education to playing a TV character with the disease is very commendable. Parkinsons disease touches the lives of many people. Education is vital. says Dr. Hassan.

    Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Hassan are in the downloads. To interview Dr. Hassan or another Mayo Clinic Parkinsons expert about the disease contact Nick Hanson at or call 507-284-5005.

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    What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

    • What exercises are safe to do?
    • Are there any vitamins I should take?
    • How can my friends and family support me?
    • Can you refer me to a psychiatrist to help with medications for clinical depression?
    • Can you refer me to a therapist for counseling?
    • Do you think I will need to have a gastrostomy?
    • Is there a speech-language therapist I should see?
    • Should I see an ophthalmologist to help with my eyesight?
    • Where can I get a weighted walker to help me get around?
    • Can I continue to go to work/school?

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    Progressive supranuclear palsy is a serious disorder that can negatively affect you in many ways and shorten your lifespan. Its a rare brain disease that affects your walking, balance, eyesight, thinking, emotions and more. Keep a close eye on your symptoms and report them. Dont hesitate to stay in contact with your healthcare providers. See your specialists, go to therapy, take prescribed medications and do everything you can to improve your quality of life!

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/23/2020.

    References

    What Is Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

    Progressive supranuclear palsy or Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome is a rare neurodegenerative disorder that damages your brain and affects how you walk, think, swallow and move your eyes. It may also cause a number of other symptoms. PSP is often confused with Parkinsons disease. There is no proven cure or disease-modifying treatment.

    Neurodegenerative refers to the collapse of your nervous system, especially the death of neurons and gia in your brain. Progressive means that the symptoms get worse over time and palsy means that the disorder impairs your eye movements. Supranuclear refers to the damage localized above the eye-moving centers in your brain.

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    You Are Lucky You Dont Have Tremors Or Your Symptoms Could Be Worse

    Parkinsons is progressive and unpredictable. Its impossible to know where my symptoms might be six months from now, let alone six years from now. Just because I dont exhibit a particular symptom now does not mean I will never have it. At times, Parkinsons feels like the sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

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