Parkinson's disease

Josh Lieberman

overall

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease include muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in speech and gait. Parkinson’s causes are unknown but genetics, aging, and toxins are being researched. After a Parkinson’s diagnosis, Parkinson’s disease treatments are given to help relieve symptoms. There is no cure for Parkinson's and herbal remedies are unproven. Studies on using stem cells to treat Parkinson's disease are under way. The prognosis depends on the patient's age and symptoms.

Causes

Parkinson's disease is caused by the progressive impairment or deterioration of neurons (nerve cells) in an area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. When functioning normally, these neurons produce a vital brain chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine serves as a chemical messenger allowing communication between the substantia nigra and another area of the brain called the corpus striatum. This communication coordinates smooth and balanced muscle movement. A lack of dopamine results in abnormal nerve functioning, causing a loss in the ability to control body movements

Symptoms

Early symptoms of Parkinson's disease are usually mild and generally occur gradually. You may fatigue have or a general sense of uneasiness. You may feel a slight tremor or have difficulty standing. Some may notice that their speech has become softer or that their handwriting has changed. You may forget a word or thought and have feelings of depression or anxiety. Generally, friends and family may begin to notice the changes before you do. They often notice the stiffening or lack of movement, or the absence of facial expression ("masked face") seen in Parkinson's disease. As the disease progresses, it begins to interrupt daily activities. It is important to note that not all people with Parkinson's disease experience the full range of symptoms. In fact, most people with Parkinson's have mild, non-intrusive symptoms.

Treatments

Most Parkinson’s disease treatments aim to restore the proper balance of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine by increasing dopamine levels. Drugs are the standard way of doing this, but neurosurgeons have had some success with experiments involving surgery. If your symptoms are not due to Parkinson's disease, your doctor will select the appropriate treatment for the underlying cause.

An interview with Michael J. Fox

Michael J Fox Parkinson's Disease

Important questions to ask a doctor:

1.Why did I develop Parkinson's disease? 2.What are my treatment options? 3.What are the pros and cons of each treatment? 4.What short-term and long-term side effects can I expect from the treatment? Is there anything I can do to minimize them? 5.Can you recommend any support groups for my family and me? 6.Are there any non-drug options that might help? What lifestyle modifications can I make to help me feel better? 7.Are there any foods, supplements, or over-the-counter drugs I should avoid? 8.Where can I find out more about Parkinson's disease?9.How can I relax and manage stress? 10.Are there any clinical trials I can take part in?

What is something we can do to help?