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What is Parkinson’s? A Complete Guide

Parkinson's Disease

Do you know someone who has Parkinson’s? Or is that you who have it? You may have seen some signs of it or your healthcare provider might have diagnosed you with the same. Whatever the reason behind it, we’re here to have some deep insights regarding Parkinson’s disease. 

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. It is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting predominately dopamine-producing neurons in the part of the brain called substantia nigra.

The more you understand the disease, the less you’ll believe in myths. You can still spend a good life & enjoy ‘quality’ time with PD. The first thing you should do is to keep in touch with your doctor & follow the recommended therapies for treating the symptoms successfully.

Most PD patients have prescribed dopaminergic medicines to balance the lowered dopamine levels in the brain that occurred because of the neuron impairment in the brain. We can say that motor & non-motor symptoms are still ongoing research.

Let’s have a look at every detail you would like to know about Parkinson’s.


How do you get Parkinson’s disease?

Normal vs. Parkinson's Body

PD occurs when the nerve cells or neurons in the substantia nigra become impaired or dead. If you’re asking about the cause of Parkinson’s, we would rather say ‘unknown’. You should also know that having Parkinson’s isn’t fatal, but the complications of the disease may be very serious.

Do you know? Parkinson’s ranks as 14th the cause of death in the US.


5 Stages of Parkinson’s

Parkinson affects people with different intensity & order. However, we’ve figured out some common progression patterns & have categorized them into the following stages.

Stage One: In this initial stage of PD, most people don’t feel like they’re suffering from it because they don’t see any interference in daily activities. They may experience tremors and other movement symptoms occurring only on one side of the body. However, they may notice some minor changes in posture, walking, and facial expressions too.

Stage Two: Here, the symptoms start getting worse. Tremor, rigidity, and other movement symptoms are seen affecting both sides of the body. They may have walking problems & poor posture. Daily tasks get difficult & lengthy to accomplish.

Stage Three: The third stage of PD is considered as mid-stage were losing balance & slowness of movements are experienced more frequently. Also, falls become common visitors. No matter these symptoms show up, but the individual is still independent. But, minor impairments are witnessed in eating, dressing, etc.

Stage Four: Symptoms are falling severe & limiting after reaching this stage. Standing without help is still possible, but they’ll need help to walk or perform any movements. Day to day living gets difficult & it seems impossible to live alone.

Stage Five: Lastly, this stage appears to be the most advanced & deliberating one. Standing & walking both seem difficult due to the stiffness in the legs. It’s better if they take the help of a wheelchair or stay bedridden most of the time. It is essential to have someone to look after them round the clock. Hallucinations and delusions become common. And non-motor and motor symptoms appear more frequently.


What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s symptom doesn’t develop overnight but over the years. Also, the progression of symptoms varies from person to person with a few signs in common:

  • Tremor
  • The rigidity of Limbs or Stiffness
  • Balancing Troubles
  • Bradykinesia

These are just to be mentioned as a few. Tremor, stiffness, and slowdown of movement are accompanied by sleeplessness, memory troubles, and mental health issues too. Let us take you through details on the early symptoms of Parkinson’s.


10 Early Parkinson’s Symptoms

  • Sleeping Disorder

    Facing difficulty in sleeping at night? It may be Parkinson’s early sign. You may feel insomniac due to several reasons that disrupt your sleep. Restless leg syndrome, tremor, stiffness, and pain may be triggering this condition. Tiredness & drowsiness may also become a daily matter.

  • Smell sensibility loss

It may make you feel like you have lost the sense of smell sensibility. You no longer possess a strong smell sensibility & it seems like your smelling power is disappearing. For instance, you may find yourself struggling to smell your favorite food too. This may seem to be happening with you before any other symptoms.

  • Small Handwriting

Parkinson’s directly affects the brain & this makes movements smaller & less forceful. You may thus see changes in handwriting that keep getting smaller with time. It may get small gradually over time.

  • Indigestion & Bladder Problems

Bladder or bowel movement problems also become common in Parkinson’s. You cannot hold on to peeing & want to use the toilet immediately. Also, you may have to visit the washroom more frequently during the night. In a nutshell, you lose control over the urinary tract.

  • Depression

Depression knocks in when you’re consistently feeling extreme sadness or a sense of loneliness & emptiness kill you from within. Also, these feelings are not temporary. Sadness, unhappiness, and frustration become your long-term companions.

Many people suffering from Parkinson’s see depression earlier for months before being diagnosed with the disease. It is also a sign of ‘non-motor fluctuations’ that increase or drop based on the timings you consume medicine.

  • Anxiety

Just like depression, anxiety is a common visitor among Parkinson’s patients. Uneasiness like worries & fear keeps showing up in between. This happens more during the early stage of Parkinson’s. When this becomes a daily issue, it leads to anxiety in long run.

How to know if you’re having anxiety in Parkinson’s? You may have any of such symptoms as consistent worries, difficulty in focusing, pounding, sweating, increased heartbeat, breathlessness, trembling, dizziness, etc.

  • Tiredness/Fatigue

Fatigue never seems to leave you, no matter how hard you try to get rid of it by resting, sleeping, or doing activities that keep you relaxed. It sticks to the people suffering from Parkinson’s like a soul to the body.

It may let you feel good & energetic for a day & you’re again tired & restless the following day. In case if you’re working, you’re exhausted with work the whole day & you feel like doing nothing in the evening.

You may wonder what causes this level of fatigue. The answer is ‘chemical changes in the brain’. Besides this, it may be a result of tremors, muscular rigidity, or stressful feelings running all day long.

Physical fatigue & mental fatigue both affect you & it gets very difficult to focus on anything for a long time.

  • Tremor

Tremor is nothing but an uncontrollable movement affecting a part of your body. When concerned with Parkinson’s, a tremor starts in the hand & later spreads to the rest of the arm & the leg on the same side of the body. After affecting one side of the body, it similarly affects the other side.

Let us tell you tremor is nearly impossible to cure, but it is still possible to calm the symptoms by consulting a Parkinson’s specialist.

  • The slowdown of Movements/Bradykinesia

One of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s, Bradykinesia or slower movements simply means that people having this disease will likely perform movements at a slower pace. For instance, it is tough to coordinate doing routine activities like walking. You walk comparatively slower & uncoordinated than a normal person. Similarly, receiving change at the counter or working on your laptop may get time-consuming too.

  • Stiffness

Stiffing of muscles, cramps & rigidity seems like a daily deal when it comes to Parkinson’s. This hinders routine activities that are normal for other people like wearing a tie, writing, housekeeping, etc. Stretching & relaxing is halted due to muscular-rigidity. People can notice this happening to you when you find difficulty in turning over or making basic movements. It even gets hard for you to get in & out of your bed.

Apart from these symptoms, you may see yourself undergoing emotional changes, frequent constipation, have swallowing problems, chewing & eating problems, etc too. Moreover, sexual dysfunction may also affect some.


Can we cure Parkinson’s?

Currently, there is no specific cure available for Parkinson’s disease But it can be maintained by some Dopamine Supplements. However, some treatments are available for helping people to relieve the symptoms and maintain the quality of life. We’re sharing some medicine-free ways to help feel relief from Parkinson’s. Have a look.


6 Effective Alternatives to Medicines for feeling better with Parkinson’s

Medications for Parkinson's

Enhancing the quality of life by preserving physical health & well-being is a great initiative & probably an effective alternative to medicines. It may take the least efforts to exercise regularly, eating healthy, staying hydrated, and getting ample sleep. Are we expecting too much from this life at the cost of our health?

You realize the value of little things in Parkinson’s. Some non-traditional therapies seem to gain footage & here are they you should consider seeing what’s working for you:

  • Nutritional Supplements

Antioxidant coenzymes like Q10, also referred to as Co-Q10 may improve Parkinson’s disease. No matter what you see on the internet as an ‘effective’ treatment, you should only consider consuming the ones that your doctor signals green according to your health conditions. Once you start taking supplements under their guidance, make sure you take them as prescribed. Stopping to use them based on self-assumptions may not give expected results.

Food or supplements rich in calcium & having high protein content may help in Parkinson’s.

  • Practice Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an exercise that promotes balance & coordination and this tends to provide relief among patients with Parkinson’s. A study conducted in 2012 revealed that resistance training, stretching & Tai Chi offers measurable improvements in balance & stability in people with moderate Parkinson’s effects.

  • Yoga

When flexibility & balance is considered, how can we forget to mention yoga? Movement disorders are common in Parkinson’s & there are many alternative positions in Yoga for increasing mobility, balance, flexibility, and strength. Also, Yoga uplifts your mood & helps you get better sleep. This means that you get relief from anxiety & insomnia together.

  • Try Massage Therapies

Though not researched more, it is still believed that certain types of massages may help in relieving side effects of Parkinson’s disease, mainly Tremor. This relief may be temporary but is still a relief. Muscular rigidity can also be minimized with the help of a 60-minute massage session.

  • Do Movement Therapies

Balancing is greatly affected by Parkinson’s, leading to a gradual deterioration of motor skills. Some movement therapies are helping in the counterpart of these effects. Mobility is retained for people suffering from Parkinson’s with The Alexander Technique. Another therapy well-known for Parkinson’s is the Feldenkrais Method that aims for retraining your body for performing difficult movements.

Dancing & strength training also aid in alleviating these symptoms. So, if you’re planning to try any of such new exercises, consult your doctor & see his guidance regarding the same.

  • Acupuncture

A staple of traditional Chinese medicines, acupuncture aims at stimulating points along the body’s meridians or energy pathways. It alleviates pain & so it is a recognized therapy, not just for Parkinson’s, but for many other bodily issues. Fatigue & sleeplessness can also be cured with Acupuncture.


What are the Risk factors of Parkinson’s?

Some major influencing risk factors of Parkinson’s are as follows:

  • Age: Parkinson’s affects young adults less likely. It commonly shows up in the middle or late life and the risk rises with the age. People usually experience it in their 60s or older age.
  • Heredity: If any of your close relatives are suffering from Parkinson’s, the possibility of it affecting you increases. The risk factor is still smaller until many of your relatives have Parkinson’s disease.
  • Sex: You see fewer women suffering from Parkinson’s than men.
  • Toxin Exposure: Your exposure to herbicides & pesticides elevates your risk of Parkinson’s disease.


Wrapping it up

As you’ve seen that the exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, it’s hard to find some obvious ways for preventing this disease. We’ve still shown some recognized ways to find relief in Parkinson’s disease. Whenever you feel any of Parkinson’s symptoms, make sure you reach out to your doctor as soon as possible to find an effective relief solution.

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