Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects how the person moves, including how they speak and write. Symptoms develop gradually, and may start off with ever-so-slight tremors in one hand. People with Parkinson’s disease also experience stiffness and find they cannot carry out movements as rapidly as before – this is called bradykinesia. The muscles of a person with Parkinson’s become weaker and the individual may assume an unusual posture.
Parkinson’s disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. Movement disorders describe a variety of abnormal body movements that have a neurological basis, and include such conditions as cerebral palsy, ataxia, and Tourette syndrome.
A male has a 50% higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than a female.
In the majority of cases, symptoms start to appear after the age of 50. However, in about 4% to 5% of cases the sufferer is younger than 40 years. When signs and symptoms develop in an individual aged between 21 and 40 years, it is known as Young-onset Parkinson’s disease.
Apart from tremor and slow movements, the patient may also have a fixed, inexpressive face – this is because of poorer control over facial muscle coordination and movement.
As a significant number of elderly patients with early Parkinson’s disease symptoms assume that their traits may form part of normal aging and do not seek medical help, obtaining accurate statistics is probably impossible. There are also several different conditions which sometimes have comparable signs and symptoms to Parkinson’s, such as drug-induced Parkinsonism, head trauma, encephalitis, stroke, Lewy body dementia, corticobasal degeneration, multiple system atrophy, and progressive supranuclear pasly.
Some factors may raise or lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s
- Circumin – an ingredient found in the spice turmeric, is apparently effective in preventing the clumping of a protein involved in Parkinson’s disease, according to scientists from Michigan State University. (Link to article)
- Flavonoids – adult males who regularly eat foods rich in flavonoids appear to have a considerably lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, compared to others who do not, researchers in the USA and UK reported in the journal Neurology. Examples of foods include berries, apples, some vegetables, tea and red wine. In this study, the protective effects come from anthocyanins, a subclass of flavonoids.
- REM sleep disorder – people with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep behavior disorder may have twice the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease or mild cognitive impairment, compared to others without the disorder, researchers at the Mayo Clinic reported in Annals of Neurology.
- Neurologist and co-author, Brad Boeve, M.D., said:”Understanding that certain patients are at greater risk for MCI or Parkinson’s disease will allow for early intervention, which is vital in the case of such disorders that destroy brain cells. Although we are still searching for effective treatments, our best chance of success is to identify and treat these disorders early, before cell death.”Some reheated cooking oils – aldehydes, which have been linked to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as some cancers, can be found in some oils, such as sunflower oil, when heated to a certain temperature, and then used again. Scientists from the University of the Basque Country found that aldehydes remain in cooking oils after they are heated.
- Parkinson’s disease is primarily caused by low and falling dopamine levelsA person with Parkinson’s has abnormally low dopamine levels. Dopamine-generating cells, known as dopaminergic neurons (types of nerve cells) in the substantia nigra part of the brain have died. Experts do not know why these cells die.When dopamine levels are too low, people find it harder to get things done, to control their movements.Dopamine levels progressively drop in patients with the disease, so their symptoms gradually become more severe. Dopamine is involved in the sending of messages to the part of the brain that controls coordination and movement.
- Although Parkinson’s disease is not a direct cause of death, it is a progressive disease, and symptoms get worse over time. Parkinson’s is:
- A chronic disease – a long-term disease. It is incurable.
- A progressive disease – a disease that gradually gets worse.
(Image: Representation only)
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