10 April 2023
Parkinson’s disease is a neuro-degenerative disorder that affects millions of people around the world. While the disease is most commonly diagnosed in individuals over the age of 60 years, it can also affect younger adults, with approximately 4% of the cases occurring in individuals under the age of 50.
To raise awareness on the nervous system disorder, World Parkinson’s Day is observed every year on 11th April.
Dr Amit Shankar Singh, Associate Consultant, Neurology, Fortis Hospital Mohali, in an advisory explains the causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment options of Parkinson’s disease.
Why is Parkinson’s caused?
Parkinson’s is caused due to the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain, thereby causing a dopamine deficit. Dopamine is responsible for causing several body functions such as movement, memory and reward and motivation. “The loss of dopaminergic neurons in the brain leads to the deficiency of dopamine in the basal ganglia. This deficiency causes a range of motor symptoms, including tremors, rigidity, and bradykinesia, as well as non-motor symptoms such as cognitive impairment, depression, and autonomic dysfunction,” added Dr Shankar.
The warning signs of Parkinson’s disease that are easily identifiable are as follows:
· Tremors or shaking in the hands, arms, legs, or face.
· Stiffness or rigidity in the arms, legs, or trunk.
· Slowness of movement (bradykinesia).
· Impaired balance and coordination.
· Changes in speech and writing.
· Depression or anxiety.
· Sleep disturbances.
· Memory and cognitive problems.
Dr Shankar said though there was no specific test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease, neurologists looked specific symptoms associated with the disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.
Discussing the treatment options, Dr Shankar, said, “Several treatment options are available for Parkinson’s disease, including medications, physical therapy, and deep brain stimulation. Treatment of Parkinson’s disease is focused on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. The mainstay of treatment is pharmacotherapy, with medications aimed at increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Levodopa, a precursor of dopamine, is the most effective medication for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Other medications, such as dopamine agonists, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and anticholinergics, may also be used. In addition to pharmacotherapy, non-pharmacological interventions, such as physical therapy and deep brain stimulation (DBS), may also be used to improve motor symptoms.”
Dr Shankar further added, “By raising awareness on Parkinson’s disease and its symptoms, we can help ensure that individuals living with this disease receive the care and support they need. If you or someone you know is living with Parkinson’s disease, know that you are not alone. It can shake you but cannot break you.”