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When Is Parkinson’s Usually Diagnosed

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How Is It Treated

How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed?

At this time, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. But there are several types of medicines that can control the symptoms and make the disease easier to live with.

You may not even need treatment if your symptoms are mild. Your doctor may wait to prescribe medicines until your symptoms start to get in the way of your daily life. Your doctor will adjust your medicines as your symptoms get worse. You may need to take several medicines to get the best results.

Levodopa is the best drug for controlling symptoms of Parkinson’s. But it can cause problems if you use it for a long time or at a high dose. So doctors sometimes use other medicines to treat people in the early stages of the disease.

The decision to start taking medicine, and which medicine to take, will be different for each person. Your doctor will be able to help you make these choices.

In some cases, a treatment called deep brain stimulation may also be used. For this treatment, a surgeon places wires in your brain. The wires carry tiny electrical signals to the parts of the brain that control movement. These little signals can help those parts of the brain work better.

There are many things you can do at home that can help you stay as independent and healthy as possible. Eat healthy foods. Get the rest you need. Make wise use of your energy. Get some exercise every day. Physical therapy and occupational therapy can also help.

Drug Therapy And Research

If the disease progresses beyond minor symptoms, drug treatment may be indicated. Drug therapy for Parkinsonâs typically provides relief for 10â15 years or more. The most commonly prescribed medication is L-dopa , and this helps replenish some of the depleted dopamine in the brain. Sinemet, a combination of levodopa and carbidopa, is the drug most doctors use to treat Parkinsonâs disease. Recent clinical studies have suggested, in the younger person, the class of drugs called âdopamine agonistsâ should be used prior to levodopa-carpidopa except in patients with cognitive problems or hallucinations. In those older than 75, dopamine agonists should be used cautiously because of an added risk of hallucinations.

Other drugs are also used, and new drugs are continually being tested. It is common for multiple drugs to be prescribed because many of them work well together to control symptoms and reduce side effects. Contrary to past beliefs, starting Sinemet in newly diagnosed people does not lead to early symptoms of dyskinesia . Current knowledge is that the disease progression causes dyskinesias, not a âresistanceâ to the drug.

Quality of life studies show that early treatment with dopaminergic medications improves daily functioning, prevents falls, and improves a personâs sense of well-being.

Where To Get More Information

  • If you’re experiencing any symptoms and are concerned, see your GP.
  • To learn more about Parkinson’s disease and to find support, visit Parkinson’s Australia or call the Info Line on 1800 644 189.
  • The Shake It Up Australia Foundation partners with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to help raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s disease research.
  • The Garvan Institute of Medical Research is working hard to find ways to diagnose Parkinson’s earlier and repurpose existing drugs to slow its progress. Find out more here.

Read Also: What Causes Dyskinesia In Parkinson’s

What Are The Surgical Treatments For Parkinsons Disease

Most patients with Parkinsons disease can maintain a good quality of life with medications. However, as the disease worsens, medications may no longer be effective in some patients. In these patients, the effectiveness of medications becomes unpredictable reducing symptoms during on periods and no longer controlling symptoms during off periods, which usually occur when the medication is wearing off and just before the next dose is to be taken. Sometimes these variations can be managed with changes in medications. However, sometimes they cant. Based on the type and severity of your symptoms, the failure of adjustments in your medications, the decline in your quality of life and your overall health, your doctor may discuss some of the available surgical options.

The 5 Stages Of Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons disease

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.

Recommended Reading: Parkinson Disease Life Expectancy

Additional Testing For Parkinsons

Many doctors I know make a confirmatory diagnosis of Parkinsons disease at this stage. If there are no red-flags, then a single office visit is usually enough to confirm the diagnosis.

Some doctors, including myself, do request some simple investigations . These are done to rule out rare causes and Parkinsons Mimics. Usually, these tests do not show an additional problem.

Simple tests to detect Parkinsons Mimics
1. MRI-Brain with size measurements of brain parts called the midbrain and pons. I usually also request a unique picture called SWI, which shows iron inside the brain.

2. Blood tests:

  • VDRL
  • Some Parkinson’s Treatment Options

    Parkinson’s disease has no cure, but there are treatment options to control your symptoms and improve your quality of life which include:

    • Medication. Levodopa and other medications, which are trying to boost dopamine . There are number of those medications which can be used alone or in combination. Although many of those medications can help you significantly control your motor symptoms , you might also experience side effects and diminished efficacy over time.
    • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy are usually part of your treatment plan and can improve your balance, mobility, ability to do daily tasks, and speech.
    • Deep brain stimulation is a surgery performed by a neurosurgeon, and in indicated patients can help with motor symptoms, though non-motor symptoms, such as falls, constipation, low blood pressure and incontinence do not improve.
    • Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that may help sufferers regain some of their balance and strength, as well as decrease the risk of falling. Dance, such as a Zumba, may also help, as can using a stationary bicycle and rock steady boxing.

    Many treatment options for Parkinson’s are most effective when used in conjunction with others such as taking medication and doing physical therapy.

    You May Like: Is Parkinsons Disease Genetic

    Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

    Parkinson’s disease has four main symptoms:

    • Tremor in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
    • Stiffness of the limbs and trunk
    • Slowness of movement
    • Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls

    Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking urinary problems or constipation skin problems and sleep disruptions.

    Symptoms of Parkinsons and the rate of progression differ among individuals. Sometimes people dismiss early symptoms of Parkinson’s as the effects of normal aging. In most cases, there are no medical tests to definitively detect the disease, so it can be difficult to diagnose accurately.

    Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are subtle and occur gradually. For example, affected people may feel mild tremors or have difficulty getting out of a chair. They may notice that they speak too softly, or that their handwriting is slow and looks cramped or small. Friends or family members may be the first to notice changes in someone with early Parkinson’s. They may see that the person’s face lacks expression and animation, or that the person does not move an arm or leg normally.

    People with Parkinson’s often develop a parkinsonian gait that includes a tendency to lean forward, small quick steps as if hurrying forward, and reduced swinging of the arms. They also may have trouble initiating or continuing movement.

    How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated

    Diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease

    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.

    Read Also: What Is The Life Expectancy Of Someone With Parkinson’s 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

    What Makes Pd Hard To Predict

    Parkinsonâs comes with two main buckets of possible symptoms. One affects your ability to move and leads to motor issues like tremors and rigid muscles. The other bucket has non-motor symptoms, like pain, loss of smell, and dementia.

    You may not get all the symptoms. And you canât predict how bad theyâll be, or how fast theyâll get worse. One person may have slight tremors but severe dementia. Another might have major tremors but no issues with thinking or memory. And someone else may have severe symptoms all around.

    On top of that, the drugs that treat Parkinsonâs work better for some people than others. All that adds up to a disease thatâs very hard to predict.

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    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.

    Caregiving For People Living With Parkinsons

    ParkinsonS Disease

    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.

    Read Also: What Do Parkinson’s Patients Usually Die From

    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 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.

    Parkinsonâs doesnât 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.

    Also Check: Is Parkinson’s An Autoimmune Disease

    What Is Parkinson’s Disease

    Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and the most common movement disorder. Characteristics of Parkinsons disease are progressive loss of muscle control, which leads to trembling of the limbs and head while at rest, stiffness, slowness, and impaired balance. As symptoms worsen, it may become difficult to walk, talk, and complete simple tasks.

    The progression of Parkinson’s disease and the degree of impairment vary from person to person. Many people with Parkinson’s disease live long productive lives, whereas others become disabled much more quickly. Complications of Parkinsons such as falling-related injuries or pneumonia. However, studies of patent populations with and without Parkinsons Disease suggest the life expectancy for people with the disease is about the same as the general population.

    Most people who develop Parkinson’s disease are 60 years of age or older. Since overall life expectancy is rising, the number of individuals with Parkinson’s disease will increase in the future. Adult-onset Parkinson’s disease is most common, but early-onset Parkinson’s disease , and juvenile-onset Parkinson’s disease can occur.

      General Approach To Management

      What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and how is it diagnosed?

      The primary goal in the management of PD is to treat the symptomatic motor and nonmotor features of the disorder, with the objective of improving the patients overall quality of life. Appropriate management requires an initial evaluation and diagnosis by a multidisciplinary team consisting of neurologists, primary care practitioners, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, and pharmacists., It is also important that the patient and his or her family have input into management decisions.

      Effective management should include a combination of nonpharmacological and pharmacological strategies to maximize clinical outcomes. To date, therapies that slow the progression of PD or provide a neuroprotective effect have not been identified., Current research has focused on identifying biomarkers that may be useful in the diagnosis of early disease and on developing future disease-modifying interventions.,

      Also Check: What Do Parkinson’s Patients Usually Die From

      Stage Three Of Parkinsons Disease

      Stage three is considered mid-stage and is characterized by loss of balance and slowness of movement.

      Balance is compromised by the inability to make the rapid, automatic and involuntary adjustments necessary to prevent falling, and falls are common at this stage. All other symptoms of PD are also present at this stage, and generally diagnosis is not in doubt at stage three.

      Often a physician will diagnose impairments in reflexes at this stage by standing behind the patient and gently pulling the shoulders to determine if the patient has trouble maintaining balance and falls backward . An important clarifying factor of stage three is that the patient is still fully independent in their daily living activities, such as dressing, hygiene, and eating.

      Eat A Healthy Balanced Diet

      Theres no one specific diet for Parkinsons. But a nutritious diet thats high in fruits, vegetables and whole, unprocessed foods is good for your body and brain. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian to craft a diet that helps you manage your Parkinsons symptoms and feel energized and healthy.

      Recommended Reading: Is Parkinson’s Disease Fatal

      Looking For Signs Of Parkinsons

      Your specialist will examine you to look for common signs of Parkinsons. You may be asked to:

      • write or draw to see if your writing is small or gradually fades
      • walk to see whether theres a reduction in the natural swing of your arm or in your stride length and speed
      • speak to see if your voice is soft or lacks volume

      The specialist will also look at and ask you about your:

      • face to see if there is a masked look or if you have difficulty with facial expressions
      • limbs to see if you have a tremor, any stiffness or slowness of movement

      As well as examining you for any of the typical signs of Parkinsons, the specialist will also look for signs that may suggest a different diagnosis.

      It may be helpful to take someone with you for support when seeing a specialist. Taking a list of questions you want to ask can also be useful so you dont forget to mention something you want to know about. If a healthcare professional says something you dont understand, dont be afraid to ask them to explain what they mean.

      Medicines For Parkinson’s Disease

      Parkinson

      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

      Recommended Reading: Average Life Expectancy For Parkinson Disease

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