Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease. Approximately 6.1 million people in the world have Parkinson’s, out of which 10% are in India. The disease develops more commonly in men than in women.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Patients with this condition experience several neurological symptoms. The severity of symptoms increases as the disease progresses. It is commonly an old-age disease that occurs in people over the age of 60. However, in some cases, people under the age of 50 also present with Parkinson’s.
What are the Stages of Parkinson’s Disease?
There are five stages of Parkinson’s disease. Stage 1 indicates the initial stage, stages 2 and 3 represent the mild stages and stages 4 and 5 indicate the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease.
- Stage 1: The symptoms at this stage are very mild and do not interfere with routine activities. Although patients often miss the changes in their walking or posture, friends or family members may notice them.
- Stage 2: Patients at this stage may experience mild tremors and muscle stiffness. The symptoms slightly interfere with daily activities, such as prolonging work completion.
- Stage 3: At this stage, muscle stiffness may result in reduced reflexes. The patient has trouble maintaining balance.
- Stage 4: Patients, at this stage, become dependent on assisted devices for walking. Stage-4 patients are unable to perform routine work and, thus, are unable to live alone.
- Stage 5: At stage 5, the patient is unable to stand and maintain balance. They will require the assistance of a wheelchair. Patients experience severe muscle stiffness at this stage.
What are the Types of Parkinson’s Disease?
Following are the various types of Parkinson’s disease:
- Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease: It is the most common type of Parkinson’s disease meaning parkinsonism with no identifiable cause. There is a reduction in dopamine levels. Environment and genetic factors may be responsible for this disease.
- Drug-induced Parkinsonism: Several drugs may cause Parkinson’s-like symptoms by interfering with the functioning of dopamine. Such drugs are antiepileptics, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
- Juvenile Parkinson’s disease: It is a rare condition occurring in patients below the age of 21.
- Young-onset Parkinson’s disease: Young-onset Parkinson’s develops in patients under the age of 40. Genetic factors and family history are associated with its occurrence.
- Multiple system atrophy: Multiple system atrophy affects involuntary functions such as heart rate, bladder activity, and blood pressure. However, patients also experience Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
Patients with Parkinson’s disease may experience the following symptoms:
- Slow movement
- Stiff muscles
- Difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination
- Changes in writing and speech patterns
- Loss of smell
- Rapid eye movement
- Sleep disorder
- Mood changes
- Constipation and difficulty in chewing and swallowing
What are the Causes of Parkinson’s Disease?
The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is not known. Researchers believe that genetic and environmental factors lead to this brain disorder. Several changes occur in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Lewy bodies, clusters of specific substances in brain cells, are present. There is also the presence of Alpha-synuclein in Lewy bodies.
How do Doctors Diagnose Parkinson’s Disease?
There is no specific test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. The following are typically done:
- Physical examination: The doctor may ask you about your medical history and conduct a neurological and physical evaluation.
- Imaging techniques: Your doctor may advise a single-photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) scan called a dopamine transporter scan (DaTscan). Other imaging tests, such as an MRI, may help to rule out other diseases.
What are the Treatment Options for Parkinson’s Disease?
Following are the treatment options for Parkinson’s disease:
- Medication: The doctor may prescribe medication such as dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors, anticholinergics, and Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors. These medications improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Surgery: The surgery is for patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. Patients may undergo deep brain stimulation surgery to manage the symptoms of this disease.
Parkinson’s disease at moderate and severe stages affects the quality of life. The dependency on other people increases with the severity. Medications and surgery may alleviate the symptoms to varying degrees.