Saturday, March 2, 2024
Saturday, March 2, 2024
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How To Find Out If I Have Parkinson’s Disease

Your Symptoms Are Unique To You

Parkinson’s Disease – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Article written by Jackie Hunt Christensen.

Since that life-altering moment you received your diagnosis, you probably have learned about the symptoms of Parkinsons disease and your treatment options. But what you should also know is that your Parkinsons and how you deal with it are as unique as you are. ;

For some people embracing new activities that refocus their attention away from troubling symptoms and onto things that are intrinsically satisfying can help. The key, she says, is to find ways to bring joy and happiness into your life every day.

You’re Going To Learn A Lot About Parkinson’s

You’re going to learn a lot about this disease. Buckle up. Nevertheless, you’re going to want to acclimate before you go in too deep of water or stay in too long. Moderation. Don’t go to the final stages when you’re in slight tremors. The only thing you can expect there is pain you may never experience. Don’t cross bridges until you have to or are ready to.

Stiffness And Slow Movement

Parkinsons disease mainly affects adults older than 60. You may feel stiff and a little slow to get going in the morning at this stage of your life. This is a completely normal development in many healthy people. The difference with PD is that the stiffness and slowness it causes dont go away as you get up and start your day.

Stiffness of the limbs and slow movement appear early on with PD. These symptoms are caused by the impairment of the neurons that control movement. A person with PD will notice jerkier motions and move in a more uncoordinated pattern than before. Eventually, a person may develop the characteristic shuffling gait.

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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.

How Should I Diagnose The Disease Clinically

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The problem with Parkinsons is that it cannot be diagnosed with a single test. Essentially, you need to go through many diagnostic steps that include a detailed health history, general physical examination, genetic testing, brain imaging tests, and drug responsive test.

In detailed health history, your neurologist may ask you the following typical questions:

  • What kind of symptoms did you experience and when did you notice?
  • How often they appear?
  • Does anyone in your family has Parkinsons?
  • Did you encounter any medical illness in the past?
  • Are you on any medication these days?

In general physical examination, you will be checked for typical motor symptoms that appear in Parkinsons disease. These symptoms include tremor, slowness of movement, body stiffness, abnormal walking pattern, reduced facial expression, and micrographia .

Genetic testing is performed to find out if a patient carries mutations in the genes linked to Parkinsons disease. These genes include SNCA, LRRK2, PRKN, PINK1, DJ-1, and ATP13A2. People carrying a mutation in these genes can develop the disease symptoms either before the 40s or after the age of 50s.

In some cases, you may also subject to brain imaging tests, which help in the correct diagnosis of Parkinsons disease.The most commonly used brain tests are PET and MRI . These tests are used to determine the disease severity by accessing abnormal changes in different regions of the brain.

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In The Loop: Staying Ahead Of Parkinsons Disease One Ping Pong Game At A Time

Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Steve Grinnell has worked hard to stay active, stepping up his table tennis game and, thanks to co-workers, testing his skills outside his home.

Four years ago, Steve Grinnell’s life was forever changed when doctors at;Mayo Clinic;in Rochester diagnosed him with early-onset;Parkinson’s disease. Since that time, the progressive nervous system disorder has begun to take a toll on Steve and his family, just as it does on the millions of other Americans living with the disease. “It has greatly diminished his quality of life, leaving him with tremors, physical exhaustion, impaired balance, troubled grasping things with his right hand, slow right-arm movement and problems sleeping,” the Rochester Post-Bulletin recently;reported. “That’s to name just a few of his symptoms.”

Reading that, one might assume the disorder is winning. And to Steve, sometimes it feels like it is. But much of the time, he tells us he also feels like he’s staying one step ahead of the disease by staying as physically active as possible. “Parkinson’s presents such a conundrum because it wears you down physically, and yet;exercise is so valuable,” Steve says. “My legs, feet and right arm are always cramping, so it takes mental effort to get moving.”

What Is The Treatment For Parkinson’s Disease

There is currently no treatment to cure Parkinson’s disease. Several therapies are available to delay the onset of motor symptoms and to ameliorate motor symptoms. All of these therapies are designed to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain either by replacing dopamine, mimicking dopamine, or prolonging the effect of dopamine by inhibiting its breakdown. Studies have shown that early therapy in the non-motor stage can delay the onset of motor symptoms, thereby extending quality of life.

The most effective therapy for Parkinson’s disease is levodopa , which is converted to dopamine in the brain. However, because long-term treatment with levodopa can lead to unpleasant side effects , its use is often delayed until motor impairment is more severe. Levodopa is frequently prescribed together with carbidopa , which prevents levodopa from being broken down before it reaches the brain. Co-treatment with carbidopa allows for a lower levodopa dose, thereby reducing side effects.

In earlier stages of Parkinson’s disease, substances that mimic the action of dopamine , and substances that reduce the breakdown of dopamine inhibitors) can be very efficacious in relieving motor symptoms. Unpleasant side effects of these preparations are quite common, including swelling caused by fluid accumulation in body tissues, drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, hallucinations, and nausea.

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How Is Parkinson’s Diagnosed

Current evidence suggests that Parkinsons tends to develop gradually. It may be many months, even years, before the symptoms become obvious enough for someone to go to the doctor.

This information looks at what parkinsonism is, how Parkinsons and other similar conditions may be diagnosed, and explains some of the tests that may be involved in the process.

Parkinsonism is a term used to describe symptoms or signs that are found in Parkinsons, but which can also be found in other conditions that cause slowness of movement, stiffness and tremor.

Most people with a form of parkinsonism have idiopathic Parkinsons disease, also known as Parkinsons. Idiopathic means the cause is unknown.;

Other less common forms of parkinsonism include multiple system atrophy , progressive supranuclear palsy , drug-induced parkinsonism and vascular Parkinsons.

If youre concerned about symptoms youve been experiencing, you should visit your GP. If your GP suspects you have Parkinsons, clinical guidelines;recommend they should refer you quickly to a specialist with experience in diagnosing the condition .

Its not always easy to diagnose the condition.;So its important that you see a Parkinsons specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and to consider the best treatment options.

Diagnosing Parkinsons can take some time as;there are other conditions, such as essential;tremor , with similar symptoms. There is also currently no definitive test for diagnosing Parkinsons.

Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease

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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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What Is Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons disease occurs when;brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, stop working or die. Because PD can cause tremor, slowness, stiffness, and walking and balance problems, it is called a movement disorder. But constipation, depression, memory problems and other non-movement symptoms also can be part of Parkinsons. PD is a lifelong and progressive disease, which means that symptoms slowly worsen over time.

The experience of living with Parkinson’s over the course of a lifetime is;unique to each person. As symptoms and progression vary from person to person, neither you nor your doctor can predict which symptoms you will get, when you will get them or how severe they will be. Even though broad paths of similarity are observed among individuals with PD as the disease progresses, there is no guarantee you will experience what you see in others.

Parkinsons affects;nearly 1 million people in the United States;and;more than 6 million people worldwide.

For an in-depth guide to navigating Parkinsons disease and living well as the disease progresses, check out our;Parkinsons 360 toolkit.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Dr. Rachel Dolhun, a movement disorder specialist and vice president of medical communications at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, breaks down the basics of Parkinson’s.

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.

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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and your past health and will do a neurological exam. This exam includes questions and tests that show how well your nerves are working. For example, your doctor will watch how you move. He or she will check your muscle strength and reflexes and will check your vision.

Your doctor also may check your sense of smell and ask you questions about your mood.

In some cases, your doctor will have you try a medicine for Parkinson’s disease. If that medicine helps your symptoms, it may help the doctor find out if you have the disease.


There are no lab or blood tests that can help your doctor know whether you have Parkinson’s. But you may have tests to help your doctor rule out other diseases that could be causing your symptoms. For example:

  • An MRI or CT scan is used to look for signs of a stroke or brain tumor.
  • Blood tests check for abnormal thyroid hormone levels or liver damage.

Another type of imaging test, called PET, sometimes may detect low levels of dopamine in the brain. These low levels are a key feature of Parkinson’s. But PET scanning isn’t commonly used to evaluate Parkinson’s. That’s because it’s very expensive, not available in many hospitals, and only used experimentally.

Is Early Diagnosis Possible

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Experts are becoming more aware of symptoms of Parkinsons that precede physical manifestations. Clues to the disease that sometimes show up before motor symptoms and before a formal diagnosis are called prodromal symptoms. These include the loss of sense of smell, a sleep disturbance called REM behavior disorder, ongoing constipation thats not otherwise explained and mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

Research into these and other early symptoms holds promise for even more sensitive testing and diagnosis.

For example, biomarker research is trying to answer the question of who gets Parkinsons disease. Researchers hope that once doctors can predict that a person with very early symptoms will eventually get Parkinsons disease, those patients can be appropriately treated. At the very least, these advances could greatly delay progression.

Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center

Our center provides compassionate and timely treatment to patients with movement disorders, such as dystonia, ataxia, essential tremor and similar conditions. But our mission goes beyond patient care excellence. By offering educational events and support groups, we empower patients and caregivers to become better partners in their health.

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Information For The Veterans Community

In this booklet, you will learn about PD, its symptoms, how it is treated, and the benefits available to you as a veteran of the United States armed services.

Am I eligible for VA disability compensation benefits?

You may be able to get VA disability benefits if you got sick, were injured or exposed to environmental toxins, or developed a mental health condition while serving in the military. Even if your disability did not appear until years after your service, you may still be entitled to benefits so long as you can show that your condition is service-connected resulted from an in-service injury, illness, or event.

To be eligible to receive VA disability compensation, you must have:

  • served on active duty in the Uniformed Services, or served on active duty for training or inactive duty training, AND
  • received a discharge under other-than-dishonorable conditions .
  • In addition to meeting the above criteria, you must prove that your disability is service-connected i.e. was caused by or aggravated by your military service.; To establish service connection, you must prove the following with relevant, credible evidence:

  • a current diagnosis of your disability by a medical professional;
  • an in-service injury, illness, or event; and
  • a medical nexus, or link, between the diagnosed disability and the in-service injury, illness, or event.
  • What determines my monthly VA benefit amount?

    The VA publishes information on its compensation rates online.

    How Is A Diagnosis Made

    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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    Common Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

    Parkinsons is mostly known for its movement-related symptoms . Everyone with Parkinsons has the first symptom, bradykinesia. The term literally means slowness of movement. Researchers believe that this is due to changes in the motor areas of the brain . These changes interfere with the brains ability to execute the commands to move.

    Experiencing bradykinesia alone does not result in a diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. The patient must also exhibit at least one of the following movement symptoms:

    • Postural instability
    • Rigidity
    • Tremor

    Of the three, tremor is the most common and most commonly associated with the condition. It presents as a slight shaking in the hand or chin. Rigidity is when the patient experiences stiffness in the arms or legs that is not caused by arthritis. Finally, postural instability simply means that the patient has issues with balance or is prone to falling.

    Other movement symptoms include:

    • Insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, restless legs syndrome, vivid dreams, and other sleep disorders
    • Losing sense of taste or smell
    • Mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and apathy

    Some non-movement symptoms do not become apparent until a patient has had PD for many years.

    What If You Have Parkinson’s

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    After Parkinson’s is diagnosed, your doctor will help you develop an individualized plan to address the symptoms that have the biggest impact on your everyday life and help slow down the progression of the disease. The first step is getting a referral to a neurologist for expert care especially one who is trained in movement disorders.

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    How Can I Access The Vaccine

    Dr. Okun: In the U.S., the vaccine is being distributed to each of the 50 states, and each state has a different process for distribution. In most states, the vaccine is currently being administered to frontline healthcare workers, and eventually it will be distributed by age and priority levels. We wrote a recent blog article on access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Tips to access the vaccine include:;

    • Check in with your local health department. Some have a sign-up list so that you can access appointments online or by calling.
    • Check in with your primary doctor and let him/her know you want the vaccine.
    • Dont wait in line for hours or camp out without social distancing. Ideally, get an appointment.;

    We are working on getting people with Parkinsons to be listed as a 1b priority, meaning they would get priority in receiving the vaccine. If it were up to me, Id be vaccinating everyone with Parkinsons disease early in the process , and Id do it tomorrow.;

    Guidance on who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at each stage of the rollout is determined at the state level. Contact your states health department for details about when you and your loved ones will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Find your states health department.


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