Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
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What Does Parkinson’s Disease Do To Your Body

Sidebar: Morris K Udall Centers Of Excellence For Parkinson’s Disease Research

How Parkinson’s Disease Affects the Body — The Doctors

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.

Medicines For Parkinsons Disease

Medicines prescribed for Parkinsons 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 Parkinsons is levodopa, also called L-dopa. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine to replenish the brains 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 Parkinsons 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

Caring For Someone With Parkinsons

Practice patience and understanding when dealing with Parkinsons. You may be very frustrated and challenged as a caregiver, but those with Parkinsons are just as frustrated. Their physical and mental conditions can be debilitating, depressing, and humiliating.

Diet and nutrition can have a huge impact on the health and comfort of a Parkinson patient. Eating well, getting more rest, sleeping well, fresh air, and exercise can make a difference. Getting the right medication and complementary therapies is also important.

As Parkinsons impacts a patients motor skills, modifications to the living environment may have to be made to accommodate wheelchairs and limited mobility issues. Professional in-home assistance for Parkinsons can allow Parkinson patients to remain independent and can enhance quality of life.

Most importantly, seek help and support from family, friends, and caregiving support groups. Take advantage of the resources in your community. Shouldering all the burden can take a toll on a caregiver.

Take care of yourself or you wont be able to take care of your loved one. Follow the preventive advice provided above for yourself as well, and take deep breaths!

Resources

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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.

The 5 Stages Of Parkinsons Disease

How does Parkinsons disease gets from your gut to your ...

Getting older is underrated by most. Its a joyful experience to sit back, relax and watch the people in your life grow up, have kids of their own and flourish. Age can be a beautiful thing, even as our bodies begin to slow down. We spoke with David Shprecher, DO, movement disorders director at Banner Sun Health Research Institute about a well-known illness which afflicts as many as 2% of people older than 65, Parkinsons Disease.

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What Are The Symptoms

Symptoms of PD vary from person to person, as does the rate of progression. A person who has Parkinson’s may experience some of these more common “hallmark” symptoms:

  • Bradykinesia – slowness of movement, impaired dexterity, decreased blinking, drooling, expressionless face.
  • Tremor at rest – involuntary shaking that decreases with purposeful movement. Typically starts on one side of the body, usually the hand.
  • Rigidity – stiffness caused by involuntary increase in muscle tone.
  • Postural instability – sense of imbalance. Patients often compensate by lowering their center of gravity, which results in a stooped posture.

Other symptoms that may or may not occur:

Freezing or being stuck in place Shuffling gait or dragging of one foot Stooped posture Cognitive impairment

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 :

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What Are The Complications Of Parkinson Disease

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.

Parkinson disease dementia can cause problems with:

  • Speaking and communicating with others
  • Problem solving
  • Forgetfulness
  • Paying attention

If you have Parkinson disease and dementia, in time, you likely won’t be able to live by yourself. Dementia affects your ability to care of yourself, even if you can still physically do daily tasks.

Experts don’t understand how or why dementia often occurs with Parkinson disease. Its clear, though, that dementia and problems with cognitive function are linked to changes in the brain that cause problems with movement. As with Parkinson disease, dementia occurs when nerve cells degenerate, leading to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson disease dementia may be treated with medicines also used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, another type of dementia.

Foster A Good Relationship

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Lastly, maintaining your relationship and communication with the person with Parkinsonâs can be the most challenging and rewarding aspect of caregiving. As Parkinsonâs disease progresses, the roles change and the person with Parkinsonâs may go from being an independent head of the household to a very dependent person requiring a significant level of care. However, research shows that despite high levels of strain, caregivers with good quality relationships have reduced depression and better physical health. Remember, as a caregiver your service to your loved one is beyond measure in terms of love, depth of care, and concern.

Recommended Reading: What Are Early Warning Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease

Exercise And Healthy Eating

Regular exercise is particularly important in helping relieve muscle stiffness, improving your mood, and relieving stress.

There are many activities you can do to help keep yourself fit, ranging from more active sports like tennis and cycling, to less strenuous activities such as walking, gardening and yoga.

You should also try to eat a balanced diet containing all the food groups to give your body the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.

Slice Title3 Things We Know About Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s develops when cells in the brain stop working properly and are lost over time. These brain cells produce a chemical called dopamine.

Symptoms start to appear when the brain cant make enough dopamine to control movement properly.

There are 3 main symptoms – tremor , slowness of movement and rigidity – but there are many other symptoms too.

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What Does Parkinson’s Do To The Brain

Deep down in your brain, there’s an area called the substantia nigra, which is in the basal ganglia. Some of its cells make dopamine, a chemical that carries messages around your brain. When you need to scratch an itch or kick a ball, dopamine quickly carries a message to the nerve cell that controls that movement.

When that system is working well, your body moves smoothly and evenly. But when you have Parkinson’s, the cells of your substantia nigra start to die. There’s no replacing them, so your dopamine levels drop and you can’t fire off as many messages to control smooth body movements.

Early on, you won’t notice anything different. But as more and more cells die, you reach a tipping point where you start to have symptoms.

That may not be until 80% of the cells are gone, which is why you can have Parkinson’s for quite a while before you realize it.

Does Parkinsons Affect Voice

Series on Parkinsons Disease

The voice is affected too, because the voice box is ultimately controlled by the basal ganglia as well. Thus the voice becomes soft, slurred and hushed. Others may comment that the patient is mumbling. The mumbling goes away temporarily once the patient becomes aware of it but soon returns to the soft, slurred state.

This temporary improvement when attention is paid is true of many of the motor symptoms of PD because the condition primarily affects subconscious movements, and does not directly affect nerve or muscle control at the most basic level. Thus, conscious awareness can override the slowness to a certain extent. This fact is one reason why physical therapy and physical activity are so useful and necessary in treating PD.

  • Slowness of walking and other movements
  • Trouble with dexterity

Imbalance, loss of balance reflexes

  • May fall backwards

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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

Types Of Parkinson’s Pain

Most of the time, discomfort in muscles and joints is secondary to the motor features of Parkinsons lack of spontaneous movement, rigidity, and abnormalities of posture what is known as musculoskeletal pain. The most commonly painful sites are the back, legs, and shoulders and it is usually more predominant on the side more affected by parkinsonism.

But there are many other categories of pain associated with Parkinsons disease. Radicular or neuropathic pain is experienced as a sharp pain that can start in the neck or lower back with radiation to arm or leg respectively and is often associated with numbness or tingling, or a sensation of coolness in the affected limb. It is usually secondary to a pinched nerve due to something like a slipped disc.

Dystonia related pain occurs as its name suggests, at times of dystonia most often experienced in the foot, neck or face and arm at different points in the dosing schedule, particularly the off phase when there is not enough dopamine replacement but can uncommonly also occur at peak-dose times. It can be one of the most painful symptoms those with Parkinsons can face.

Akathisia pain is experienced as restlessness, a subjective inner urge to move, an inability to stay still and the inherent feelings of discomfort that it brings. It is primarily experienced in the lower limbs and can often be relieved by walking around.

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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Treated

If a doctor thinks a person has Parkinson’s disease, there’s reason for hope. Medicine can be used to eliminate or improve the symptoms, like the body tremors. And some experts think that a cure may be found soon.

For now, a medicine called levodopa is often given to people who have Parkinson’s disease. Called “L-dopa,” this medicine increases the amount of dopamine in the body and has been shown to improve a person’s ability to walk and move around. Other drugs also help decrease and manage the symptoms by affecting dopamine levels. In some cases, surgery may be needed to treat it. The person would get anesthesia, a special kind of medicine to prevent pain during the operation.

How Parkinsons Affects The Libido

Parkinson’s Disease: How is the brain affected?

Parkinsons disease and the sex drive is a complicated issue. is a common complaint in patients with Parkinsons disease. However, certain PD medications particularly dopamine agonists can actually cause an increased sex drive in men and women, known as hypersexuality or sex addiction.

If this happens, and it is out of character for you, it is important to tell your doctor. Other side-effects of PD medications include psychosis and other impulsive behavior such as pathological gambling or heavy drinking. If you experience any of these symptoms, your doctor will most likely change your medication and monitor your mental health.

Read Also: What Are Early Warning Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease

Caregiving For People Living With Parkinsons

Caring for a loved one with PD can be a challenging job, especially as the disease progresses. Former caregivers of a loved one with PD suggest doing the following : Get prepared, Take care of yourself, Get help , Work to maintain a good relationship with your loved one, and Encourage the person with PD for whom you care, to stay active.

Preparing for caregiving starts with education. Reading this fact sheet is a good start. More resources are available to you in theResources section of this fact sheet. Early Parkinsonâs disease usually requires more emotional support and less hands-on care. It is a good time for family members/caregivers to educate themselves about the disease.

Fecal Incontinence In Advanced Parkinsons Disease

Fecal incontinence is a very debilitating symptom that can occur in advanced PD and refers to the involuntary release of fecal matter.

Once again, fecal incontinence, especially if it is a new symptom, should be fully evaluated to determine if there is a cause unrelated to PD. Diseases of the gut such as inflammatory bowel disease or compression of the lower spine cord can be the reason.

If related to PD, there are typically two situations to consider. One possibility is that severe constipation with impacted bowel movement allows loose stool from higher up in the gastrointestinal tract to escape around the edges of the obstruction. In this situation, fecal incontinence could be a harbinger of bowel obstruction. Aggressive and continuous treatment of constipation can help avoid this potential scenario.

Fecal incontinence can also be related to nerve dysfunction of the anal sphincter, or the ring of muscle that controls when feces is released. Cognitive dysfunction and mobility issues may further interfere with getting to the bathroom in time. Some treatment options are similar to urinary incontinence including the use of bedside equipment to minimize mobility issues and introduction of pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the musculature that keeps feces in place.

As with urinary incontinence, frequent and rapid exchange of dirtied incontinence products can keep skin intact and prevent infection.

Tips and Takeaways

Dr. Rebecca Gilbert

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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.

Living With Parkinson’s Disease

Structure of Parkinson

As Parkinson’s develops, a person who has it may slow down and won’t be able to move or talk quickly. Sometimes, speech therapy and occupational therapy are needed. This may sound silly, but someone who has Parkinson’s disease may need to learn how to fall down safely.

If getting dressed is hard for a person with Parkinson’s, clothing with Velcro and elastic can be easier to use than buttons and zippers. The person also might need to have railings installed around the house to prevent falls.

If you know someone who has Parkinson’s disease, you can help by being a good friend.

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