Disease at a Glance: Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic and progressive disorder of the nervous system – i.e. the symptoms continue and worsen over time. Although the exact cause of the disease is not fully known, it’s believed to be the result of damaged neurons or nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra.
These neurons produce a chemical called dopamine, which is responsible for smooth and coordinated muscle movements. As the disease progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving the patient unable to control movements normally.
Parkinson’s Disease is more common in the elderly, with most cases occurring after the age of 50. In 4-5 per cent of cases, however, the disease process may start earlier. Men have a 50 per cent higher risk of developing the disease than women.
|Early Signs: Mild tremor or slight feeling of stiffness & dragging of one foot|
|Problems with balance & walking|
|Drooling & difficulty in swallowing|
|Mask-like fixed expressionless face|
|Finger-thumb rubbing (known as pill-rolling movement)|
|Difficulty in writing|
|Slow blinking of the eyelids|
The symptoms are usually mild at the beginning, with manifestations of mild tremor or slight feeling of stiffness and dragging of one foot. The primary symptoms may vary from person to person – for example, many people experience tremor as their primary symptom, while others may not have tremors, but may have problems with balance.
Over time, the symptoms include slow blinking of the eyelids, difficulty in swallowing, drooling, problems with balance & walking, a mask-like fixed expressionless face (called Parkinsonian face), difficulty in writing, severe tremors, finger-thumb rubbing (known as pill-rolling movement), slow monotone voice and stooped posture. Slow dragging of feet with a stooping posture give an impression that the person is likely to fall down while walking. Finally, the disease advances to a stage where patients experience cognitive and behavioural problems like dementia, depression, etc.
There is no known cure for Parkinson’s Disease, but medications are prescribed to control the symptoms. Physiotherapy and lifestyle changes may also be recommended.
1. National Parkinson Foundation (www.parkinson.org)
2. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (www.pdf.org)
3. US National Library of Medicine (www.nlm.nih.gov)
4. Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org)
5. Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorder Society (www.parkinonssocietyindia.com)
Related Health News
Cinnamon may help halt progress of Parkinson’s disease : Washington: A recent study has revealed that cinnamon can suspend biomechanical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brain due to Parkinson’s disease. Neurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center have fou.... Read More