Causes Of Parkinsons Disease
At present, we do not know the cause of Parkinsons disease. In most people there is no family history of Parkinsons Researchers worldwide are investigating possible causes, including:
- environmental triggers, pesticides, toxins, chemicals
- genetic factors
- combinations of environment and genetic factors
- head trauma.
What Are The Different Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Each person with Parkinsons disease experiences symptoms in in their own unique way. Not everyone experiences all symptoms of Parkinsons disease. You may not experience symptoms in the same order as others. Some people may have mild symptoms others may have intense symptoms. How quickly symptoms worsen also varies from individual to individual and is difficult to impossible to predict at the outset.
In general, the disease progresses from early stage to mid-stage to mid-late-stage to advanced stage. This is what typically occurs during each of these stages:
Early symptoms of Parkinsons disease are usually mild and typically occur slowly and do not interfere with daily activities. Sometimes early symptoms are not easy to detect or you may think early symptoms are simply normal signs of aging. You may have fatigue or a general sense of uneasiness. You may feel a slight tremor or have difficulty standing.
Often, a family member or friend notices some of the subtle signs before you do. They may notice things like body stiffness or lack of normal movement slow or small handwriting, lack of expression in your face, or difficulty getting out of a chair.
Standing and walking are becoming more difficult and may require assistance with a walker. You may need full time help to continue to live at home.
Parkinson’s Surgery: Deep Brain Stimulation
Another treatment method, usually attempted as effectiveness of medical treatments for Parkinson’s disease wane, is termed deep brain stimulation. The technique involves surgery to implant electrodes deep into the brain in the globus pallidus, thalamus, or the subthalamic nucleus areas. Then electric impulses that stimulate the brain tissue to help overcome tremors, rigidity, and slow movements are given. Impulses are generated by a battery. This surgery is not for every Parkinson’s disease patient it is done on patients that meet certain criteria. Also, the surgery does not stop other symptoms and does not end the progression of the disease.
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Prevention Of Parkinsons Disease
Researchers dont know of any proven ways to prevent Parkinsons disease, but avoiding certain risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk.
Some studies have shown a diet high in antioxidants along with regular exercise may play a role in preventing Parkinsons. Other findings have suggested that compounds like caffeine, niacin, and nicotine may have a protective effect against Parkinsons disease.
Can Parkinsons Disease Be Prevented
According to the research done so far, the doctors and scientists believe that Parkinsons disease is triggered through a combination of genetic factors and exposure to factors like trauma and certain kinds of toxins and illness. Thus, the Parkinsons disease cannot be prevented as of now since proper etiology are yet to be discovered.
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How Is Parkinsons Diagnosed
Doctors use your medical history and physical examination to diagnose Parkinson’s disease . No blood test, brain scan or other test can be used to make a definitive diagnosis of PD.
Researchers believe that in most people, Parkinson’s is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Certain environmental exposures, such as pesticides and head injury, are associated with an increased risk of PD. Still, most people have no clear exposure that doctors can point to as a straightforward cause. The same goes for genetics. Certain genetic mutations are linked to an increased risk of PD. But in the vast majority of people, Parkinsons is not directly related to a single genetic mutation. Learning more about the genetics of Parkinsons is one of our best chances to understand more about the disease and discover how to slow or stop its progression.
Aging is the greatest risk factor for Parkinsons, and the average age at diagnosis is 60. Still, some people get PD at 40 or younger.
Men are diagnosed with Parkinsons at a higher rate than women and whites more than other races. Researchers are studying these disparities to understand more about the disease and health care access and to improve inclusivity across care and research.
Aging is the greatest risk factor for Parkinsons, and the average age at diagnosis is 60. Still, some people get PD at 40 or younger.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation has made finding a test for Parkinsons disease one of our top priorities.
Prescription Medications To Treat Parkinsons
Most movement symptoms are due to a lack of dopamine. Therefore, drugs prescribed to treat PD are dopaminergic they either replenish dopamine or mimic its effects on the brain. The most common is called levodopa. The body converts this medication into dopamine to help control movement symptoms.
Make sure your doctor knows all medications you take including over-the-counter and supplements. This helps reduce the risk of drug interactions, a common issue for Parkinsons patients.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Parkinsons Disease
Most cases of Parkinsons disease are idiopathic, meaning the cause is unclear.
Its widely believed that a person with Parkinsons may have been genetically vulnerable to the disease, and that one or more unknown factors in the environment eventually triggered the disease.
Most of the symptoms of Parkinsons disease come from the loss of neurons in an area of your brain called the substantia nigra.
Normally, the neurons in this part of the brain make the chemical messenger dopamine, which allows communication with another area of the brain, the corpus striatum.
This communication helps produce smooth, purposeful movement. When the neurons in the substantia nigra die, the resulting loss of communication leads to the motor symptoms of Parkinsons.
Although the cause of this cell death is unknown, many researchers believe that the cells are killed by clumped proteins called Lewy bodies.
Theory Of Pd Progression: Braaks Hypothesis
The current theory is that the earliest signs of Parkinson’s are found in the enteric nervous system, the medulla and the olfactory bulb, which controls sense of smell. Under this theory, Parkinson’s only progresses to the substantia nigra and cortex over time.
This theory is increasingly borne out by evidence that non-motor symptoms, such as a loss of sense of smell , sleep disorders and constipation may precede the motor features of the disease by several years. For this reason, researchers are increasingly focused on these non-motor symptoms to detect PD as early as possible and to look for ways to stop its progression.
Page reviewed by Dr. Ryan Barmore, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinsons Foundation Center of Excellence.
*Please note that not all content is available in both languages. If you are interested in receiving Spanish communications, we recommend selecting both” to stay best informed on the Foundation’s work and the latest in PD news.
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How To Cope With The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
The only predictable thing about this disease is that it is unpredictable. Richard, diagnosed at 36
Tremors are the first sign noted in about half of all people with Parkinsons disease. But maybe, like 15 percent of people with the illness, you have never experienced this symptom. That is because Parkinsons disease affects everyone somewhat differently.
As you will discover, your symptoms will continue to change, often from day to day, and throughout the course of your life. But even though there is no cure for Parkinsons, the sooner you can take steps to manage symptoms when they arise, the better chance you will have at maintaining a good quality of life.That is why the first step in coping with the changes that accompany a Parkinsons diagnosis is to simply increase awareness, to notice new symptoms as well as how your body responds to certain activities, stresses and therapies. A helpful way to do this is by logging your symptom patterns in a daily journal. It is just a matter of jotting down small changes you notice in your physical and emotional health each day. That way you can discuss these issues promptly with your doctor and receive treatment.
What Are The Secondary Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
The primary symptoms of the Parkinsons disease have to be obviously movement related and lose of muscles control. Since it is a neurodegenerative disease, continued destruction to brain leads to secondary signs which varies in severity and people-
- Feelings of insecurity, anxiety and stress.
- Loss of memory, confusion and dementia.
- Speech problems.
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Early Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease
Three key symptoms that develop early in Parkinson’s disease are a tremor, usually on one side of the body when the person is at rest. The second symptom is rigidity, or resistance to movement when someone tries to move the person’s joint or when the person has difficulty going from a sitting to a standing position. The third symptom is termed bradykinesia, or slowness, and small movements. Bradykinesia is seen in people that have small handwriting and decreased facial expression . This condition is termed a “masked face.”
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Your Home And Lifestyle
- Modify your activities and your home. For example, simplify your daily activities, and change the location of furniture so that you can hold on to something as you move around the house.
- Eat healthy foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, legumes, poultry, fish, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.
- Exercise and do physiotherapy. They have benefits in both early and advanced stages of the disease.
Research And Statistics: Who Has Parkinsons Disease
According to the Parkinsons Foundation, nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with the disease. More than 10 million people worldwide have Parkinsons.
About 4 percent of people with Parkinsons are diagnosed before age 50.
Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than women.
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New Diagnostic Standards For Parkinsons
Until recently, the gold-standard checklist for diagnosis came from the U.K.s Parkinsons Disease Society Brain Bank. It was a checklist that doctors followed to determine if the symptoms they saw fit the disease. But thats now considered outdated. Recently, new criteria from the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society have come into use. This list reflects the most current understanding of the condition. It allows doctors to reach a more accurate diagnosis so patients can begin treatment at earlier stages.
Testing For Parkinsons Disease
There is no lab or imaging test that is recommended or definitive for Parkinsons disease. However, in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an imaging scan called the DaTscan. This technique allows doctors to see detailed pictures of the brains dopamine system.
A DaTscan involves an injection of a small amount of a radioactive drug and a machine called a single-photon emission computed tomography scanner, similar to an MRI.
The drug binds to dopamine transmitters in the brain, showing where in the brain dopaminergic neurons are.
The results of a DaTscan cant show that you have Parkinsons, but they can help your doctor confirm a diagnosis or rule out a Parkinsons mimic.
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Seven Signs Of Early Onset Of Parkinsons
There are a number of symptoms that can warn us about early onset of Parkinsons. There are several characters, but we will focus on these seven:
- Sleep disorders. The most common sleep disorders are insomnia , restless legs syndrome and REM sleep behavior syndrome.
- Depression. It is one of the first symptoms that occurs and it is actually considered as an early indicator of this disease.
- Other mood swings. In addition to depressive symptoms, anxiety and apathy are very common. These symptoms can affect the desire to seek help and a solution in a negative way.
- Cognitive changes. Many people with early-onset Parkinsons usually find it difficult to do more than one thing at a time. Poor performance of tasks, slow thinking, difficulty focusing and concentrating, memory problems and dementia are all symptoms of early onset of Parkinsons.
- Tremors. Although they usually begin in the hands, they start in other patients in the jaw or in the feet. The most characteristic of these tremors is that they occur when resting.
- Bradykinesi. This is a gradual loss of spontaneous movement. In general, movements simply become slower. This is one of the most debilitating and frustrating symptoms for the people affected.
- Exhaustion. With early onset of Parkinsons, the patient feels tired all the time without having exhausted himself.
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.
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How Is Constipation An Early Warning Sign Of Parkinson’s It’s Such A Common Problem
A: It’s not as specific as other prodromal symptoms, like anosmia. The rate at which people with chronic and unexplained problems with constipation develop Parkinson’s disease is not as easy to pin down. But if someone has unexplained, persistent constipation, it should at least be noted, as it could be considered prodromal.
Stage Two Of Parkinsons Disease
Stage two is still considered early disease in PD, and it is characterized by symptoms on both sides of the body or at the midline without impairment to balance. Stage two may develop months or years after stage one.
Symptoms of PD in stage two may include the loss of facial expression on both sides of the face, decreased blinking, speech abnormalities, soft voice, monotone voice, fading volume after starting to speak loudly, slurring speech, stiffness or rigidity of the muscles in the trunk that may result in neck or back pain, stooped posture, and general slowness in all activities of daily living. However, at this stage the individual is still able to perform tasks of daily living.
Diagnosis may be easy at this stage if the patient has a tremor however, if stage one was missed and the only symptoms of stage two are slowness or lack of spontaneous movement, PD could be misinterpreted as only advancing age.
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What Are The Symptoms
The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- Tremor, which means shaking or trembling. Tremor may affect your hands, arms, or legs.
- Stiff muscles.
- Slow movement.
- Problems with balance or walking.
Tremor may be the first symptom you notice. It’s one of the most common signs of the disease, although not everyone has it.
More importantly, not everyone with a tremor has Parkinson’s disease.
Tremor often starts in just one arm or leg or on only one side of the body. It may be worse when you are awake but not moving the affected arm or leg. It may get better when you move the limb or you are asleep.
In time, Parkinson’s affects muscles all through your body, so it can lead to problems like trouble swallowing or constipation.
In the later stages of the disease, a person with Parkinson’s may have a fixed or blank expression, trouble speaking, and other problems. Some people also lose mental skills .
People usually start to have symptoms between the ages of 50 and 60. But sometimes symptoms start earlier.
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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