What If You Have Parkinson’s
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.
How Is Parkinsons Disease Diagnosed
Diagnosing Parkinsons disease is sometimes difficult, since early symptoms can mimic other disorders and there are no specific blood or other laboratory tests to diagnose the disease. Imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans, may be used to rule out other disorders that cause similar symptoms.
To diagnose Parkinsons disease, you will be asked about your medical history and family history of neurologic disorders as well as your current symptoms, medications and possible exposure to toxins. Your doctor will look for signs of tremor and muscle rigidity, watch you walk, check your posture and coordination and look for slowness of movement.
If you think you may have Parkinsons disease, you should probably see a neurologist, preferably a movement disorders-trained neurologist. The treatment decisions made early in the illness can affect the long-term success of the treatment.
What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Ease Parkinsons Symptoms
Exercise: Exercise helps improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and tremor. It is also strongly believed to improve memory, thinking and reduce the risk of falls and decrease anxiety and depression. One study in persons with Parkinsons disease showed that 2.5 hours of exercise per week resulted in improved ability to move and a slower decline in quality of life compared to those who didnt exercise or didnt start until later in the course of their disease. Some exercises to consider include strengthening or resistance training, stretching exercises or aerobics . All types of exercise are helpful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is not only good for your general health but can ease some of the non-movement related symptoms of Parkinsons, such as constipation. Eating foods high in fiber in particular can relieve constipation. The Mediterranean diet is one example of a healthy diet.
Preventing falls and maintaining balance: Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinson’s. While you can do many things to reduce your risk of falling, the two most important are: 1) to work with your doctor to ensure that your treatments whether medicines or deep brain stimulation are optimal; and 2) to consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance. The physical therapist is the expert when it comes to recommending assistive devices or exercise to improve safety and preventing falls.
What Is The Outlook For Persons With Parkinsons Disease
Although there is no cure or absolute evidence of ways to prevent Parkinsons disease, scientists are working hard to learn more about the disease and find innovative ways to better manage it, prevent it from progressing and ultimately curing it.
Currently, you and your healthcare teams efforts are focused on medical management of your symptoms along with general health and lifestyle improvement recommendations . By identifying individual symptoms and adjusting the course of action based on changes in symptoms, most people with Parkinsons disease can live fulfilling lives.
The future is hopeful. Some of the research underway includes:
- Using stem cells to produce new neurons, which would produce dopamine.
- Producing a dopamine-producing enzyme that is delivered to a gene in the brain that controls movement.
- Using a naturally occurring human protein glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor, GDNF to protect dopamine-releasing nerve cells.
Many other investigations are underway too. Much has been learned, much progress has been made and additional discoveries are likely to come.
Is Surgery An Option
If medicine doesnât work well enough, your doctor may suggest deep brain stimulation . In DBS, your doctor implants electrodes deep in the brain. A device connected to them delivers electrical pulses. Those pulses can help control the tremors caused by Parkinson’s.
In the past, doctors sometimes used other operations to damage the brain in ways to help with movement symptoms. But they rarely use those surgeries now.
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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 Are The Early Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
10 Early Signs of Parkinsons DiseaseTremor. Have you noticed a slight shaking or tremor in your finger, thumb, hand or chin? Small Handwriting. Has your handwriting gotten much smaller than it was in the past? Loss of Smell. Trouble Sleeping. Trouble Moving or Walking. Constipation. Masked Face. Dizziness or Fainting.More items
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Dont give up.
At times, not giving up is easier said than done, especially when you feel alone and abandoned. You may feel your friends and family have abandoned you, but its often more a case of them not understanding your new journey. Its probably best to give those people in your life a free forgiveness pass and move on as you make new friends in the PD community who truly understand what living with PD is like.
Parkinsons disease causes grief, but we can choose to live joyfully and intentionally in spite of what we feel has been taken from us. It is not a death sentence, and we must learn to readjust to our new life. And a new life brings new opportunities. As one person said, never lose hope and keep the faith because God is doing miracles every day and you may be the one He is working through to accomplish just that.
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.
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What It Feels Like To Have Parkinsons Disease
In 1985, science journalist Jon Palfreman investigated a group of drug addicts who were struck with Parkinsons-like symptoms after taking tainted heroin.
Thirty years later, Palfreman was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease himself. His book, “Brain Storms,” describes his journey with the disease and new treatments for patients.;
Initially I denied and sought second opinions. I got pretty angry. I tried to keep it secret for a while, just like Michael J. Fox did, Palfreman says, It took me, Id say, about a year before I really processed it properly and then I realized that I had a destiny to use my training as a science journalist and my insights as a patient to explore this malady, which was now going to be part of my life.;
About 60,000 people each year in the US alone are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Palfreman says the malady means many things that he;used to do automatically, now come with much more difficulty.;
It is very much like getting on a plane and going to London and renting a car. You can drive on the left-hand side of the road, but you have to use your conscious brain to pay attention. Everything’s a bit harder. When I walk, I have to sort of consciously move my arms back and forth. Whereas, when a healthy person does it, it’s automatic. And so a lot of things that you got for free you have to work at, Palfreman says.;
Palfreman says there are other things people with Parkinsons can do to control the disease.;
Causes Of Early Onset Parkinsons Disease
Its unclear exactly what causes Parkinsons at any age. Genetic factors, environmental factors, or some combination of the two may play a role. This condition occurs when cells are lost in the part of the brain that produces dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for sending brain signals that control movement.
Certain genes are associated with early onset Parkinsons.
According to the National Parkinson Foundation, studies show that 65 percent of people with Parkinsons who experience onset before age 20 may do so because of a genetic mutation. This organization also suggests this mutation affects 32 percent of people who experience onset between age 20 and 30.
Environmental causes of the condition may include exposure to chemical toxins such as certain insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes Parkinsons as a disease caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a synthetic chemical herbicide that was used to spray vegetation and trees during the Vietnam War.
You may have a higher risk of developing Parkinsons if you:
- are a man
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How Can You Improve The Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
Medication aside, there are many ways people living with Parkinson’s disease can improve their health and well-being, preserve physical function, ease symptoms and enhance quality of life. Chief among these are getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated and getting an adequate amount of sleep.
Figuring Out Causes Of Fatigue
The first step in easing the fatigue associated with Parkinsons disease is to rule out other causes of tiredness, says Liana Rosenthal, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of clinical core at the Morris K. Udall Center Parkinsons Disease Research Center of Excellence. We evaluate patients to see if there are other things contributing to the fatigue besides their disease, she says.
Sometimes patients may be referred to a sleep specialist for an evaluation. That can help identify causes of tiredness, like sleep apnea. Rosenthal says: Our aim is to first treat any sleep issues, like insomnia, sleep apnea or other causes of poor sleep. Once we treat and address those issues, we can see if fatigue still persists.
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How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated
There is no cure for Parkinsons disease. However, medications and other treatments can help relieve some of your symptoms. Exercise can help your Parkinsons symptoms significantly. In addition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy can help with walking and balance problems, eating and swallowing challenges and speech problems. Surgery is an option for some patients.
Is Parkinsons Disease Inherited
Scientists have discovered gene mutations that are associated with Parkinsons disease.
There is some belief that some cases of early-onset Parkinsons disease disease starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists identified a gene mutation in people with Parkinsons disease whose brains contain Lewy bodies, which are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to understand the function of this protein and its relationship to genetic mutations that are sometimes seen in Parkinsons disease and in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
Several other gene mutations have been found to play a role in Parkinsons disease. Mutations in these genes cause abnormal cell functioning, which affects the nerve cells ability to release dopamine and causes nerve cell death. Researchers are still trying to discover what causes these genes to mutate in order to understand how gene mutations influence the development of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists think that about 10% to 15% of persons with Parkinsons disease may have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to development of the disease. There are also environmental factors involved that are not fully understood.
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Coping With The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
In addition to medication, there are steps you can take to help manage the symptoms. For example, there are several techniques you can learn that can be useful in overcoming freezing, a sudden, but temporary, inability to move. If you experience changes to your voice, there are voice exercises that can help.
Impact Of Parkinsons Disease On Relationships
If you have Parkinsons disease, you probably realize that all of your relationships those with your spouse, partner, family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances can change. They can change in a good way or in a bad way .
The most important thing to remember when reflecting on how Parkinsons influences your relationships is that you have some say in the matter. While you cannot control how people react to your condition, you can speak up when people start to treat you in ways that are incompatible with your dignity or independence.
Diagnosis And Management Of Parkinsons Disease
There are no diagnostic tests for Parkinsons. X-rays, scans and blood tests may be used to rule out other conditions. For this reason, getting a diagnosis of Parkinsons may take some time.;;
No two people with Parkinsons disease will have exactly the same symptoms or treatment. Your doctor or neurologist can help you decide which treatments to use.
People can manage their Parkinsons disease symptoms through:;
Medications For People With Parkinsons Disease
Tips For Caring For Someone With Parkinsons Disease
Caring for a loved one with early onset Parkinsons can be difficult. If youre a caregiver for someone with this condition, its important that you remember your own emotional and physical health.
Not only are you dealing with a difficult diagnosis, youre also managing an increased number of responsibilities. Burnout is common in caregivers, so make sure youre checking in with your own needs.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation Center for Parkinsons Research recommends these tips for caregivers:
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Trying Cbd Oil To Manage Parkinsons Symptoms
Your heart is likely in the right place when you make suggestions to your friends and loved ones who live with PD, but the question, Have you tried CBD oil? is one that theyve likely heard a few too many times.
ParkinsonsDisease.net author Dan Glass lists this as one of biggest pet peeves. He says, I think people feel that if I use medical marijuana or have it, they can come over and well listen to Bob Marley together while I share it with them. Not so.
Rather, a more thoughtful way of showing support might be to ask if your friend or loved one would like any suggestions or help with researching therapies. Better still, simply ask how you can show support.
What Is The Treatment For Parkinsons Disease
There is currently no treatment to cure Parkinsons 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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
The symptoms of Parkinsons disease include tremors or trembling ; difficulty maintaining balance and coordination; trouble standing or walking; stiffness; and general slowness.
Caregiving For People Living With Parkinsons
Why Is Expert Care Important
Early expert care can help reduce PD complications. Findings show that 60 percent of people with Parkinson’s fall short of getting the expert care they need. The National Parkinson Foundation has estimated that about 6,400 people with Parkinson’s die;unnecessarily;;each year due to poor care.
Trained neurologists will help you recognize, treat and manage the disease. Common approaches include medication, surgical treatment, lifestyle modifications , physical therapy, support groups, occupational therapy and speech therapy. The best approach is interdisciplinary care, where you are seen by multiple specialists on a regular basis and all of the specialists talk and arrange the best possible coordinated care. This is what is referred to as a patient-centric approach to Parkinson’s care.
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Does Parkinsons Affect Memory
Parkinson disease causes physical symptoms at first. Problems with cognitive function, including forgetfulness and trouble with concentration, may arise later. As the disease gets worse with time, many people develop dementia. This can cause profound memory loss and makes it hard to maintain relationships.
What Can You Do If You Have Pd
- Work with your doctor to create a plan to stay healthy.;This might include the following:
- A referral to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain
- Care from an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech therapist
- Meeting with a medical social worker to talk about how Parkinson’s will affect your life
For more information, visit our;Treatment page.
Page reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Spears, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinsons Foundation Center of Excellence.
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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.