Description of Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a progressive degeneration of the nervous system that eventually leads to neuron loss and loss of other brain nerve cells.
Causes and Risk Factors
Though the etiology of the disease is poor, many factors contribute towards the development of Parkinson’s disease, such as:
1. Brain cell damage that comes with age
Signs and Symptoms
The classic symptoms involve:
1. Tremor — involuntary shaking of body
2. Rigidity — increased tone of muscles making passive movement of arms and legs difficult than normal
3. Slowed movements
There exist no definitive exams, tests or studies that can be performed for a diagnosis. However, some of the important tests are:
1. Genetic testing to find out if the couple is a carrier of the mutated genes.
2. Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)
3. Blood tests may be done to rule out other diseases like abnormal thyroid hormone levels or liver damage.
4. An imaging test (such as a CT scan or an MRI) may be used to check for signs of a stroke or brain tumor.
Since there is no cure, the aim of treatment is to lessen the symptoms and improve the quality of life of the patient. Some of the treatments include:
1. Medication includes,
(a) Levodopa (L-dopa) which is meant to be picked up by the brain and be used to make dopamine hence replacing the lacking brain neurotransmitter.
(b) Carbidopa which is given with levodopa to prolong its effect. Administering of the two drugs changes as the symptoms progress.
(c) Dopamine agonists
(d) Anticholinergic medications
2. Physical therapy helps to maintain mobility, flexibility, and improve general health. The idea is to keep them functioning for longer and be able to take care of them.
3. Surgical treatment is considered at the advanced stage when medications alone cannot work.