It is a disease much more present in men than in women and usually appears between the ages of 50 and 60, although it can appear earlier, in an early onset of the disorder.
Is Parkinson’s Hereditary?
Although there are patients who have acquired the disease genetically, most cases of Parkinson’s do not occur among members of the same family.
According to recent studies, only 10% of Parkinson’s patients have inherited the disease , compared to 90% of cases in which the cause of its appearance is not genetic.
It has also been proven that in most patients who acquire the disease in hereditary form, their symptoms appear later, from the age of 50, while those who do not have any genetic load, often develop the disorder at least a decade earlier.
The fact that a direct relative suffers from Parkinson’s increases the chances of suffering it by 20%, something that occurs in a very low percentage of cases.
Currently, there are numerous hypotheses that relate the appearance of the disease to some environmental factors , such as overexposure to some pesticides and chemical pollutants.
Causes of Parkinson’s
The causes of Parkinson’s disease can be very varied. Generally speaking, this disorder develops when a set of brain neurons gradually die. Thus, many signs of this disease have their origin in the loss of neurons, leading to the production of dopamine. When dopamine levels drop, brain activity is altered, leading to the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Below we have collected some of the main causes of this disease.
- Genetics: some studies have revealed that some genes are the cause of this disorder. However, they point out that they are rare, except on some occasions when several relatives suffer from Parkinson’s.
- Environmental factors: Exposure for a long period of time to certain toxins or chemical compounds can significantly increase the risk of suffering from this disorder.
There are a number of risk factors for Parkinson’s disease that are important to understand.
- Age: This disorder generally affects people over the age of 60. In young adults it occurs very rarely.
- Hereditary factors: Having a close relative with Parkinson’s somewhat increases your chances of getting the disease. However, the risk is very low.
- Sex: in a matter of genders, men are more likely to suffer from this disease than women.
- Toxins: Continuous exposure to certain toxins and chemical compounds carries a certain risk of Parkinson’s.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
The symptoms of this disease are slow to appear and gradually increase . They often start on only one side of the body and eventually spread to the other side.
Among the most frequent signs of the disease are:
- Slowness and difficulties in movement . Parkinson’s is characterized by muscular hypertonia in which the muscles are excessively stiff. This stiffness, which spreads through the trunk and extremities, causes pain to the patient and prevents him from making precise and rapid movements.
A hunching of the back is usually present, indicating the onset of the disease.
- Loss of smell . Changes in smell when there is no cold can be a sign of Parkinson’s.
- Changes in the volume of the voice . A sign of Parkinson’s is a drop in the volume of the patient’s voice.
- Tremors in the face, in the hands, in the jaw and in the extremities. They occur when the patient is at rest and does not intend to make any movement.
- Loss of balance and lack of coordination in gestures.
As a consequence of the above symptoms, sleep disorders and depression occur very often in Parkinson’s patients due to losing control of movements, among other secondary symptoms, such as hypersalivation.
Dopamine is also a substance in charge of regulating mood, which is why depression in patients tends to occur acutely and very frequently.
Parkinson’s progresses slowly and steadily. When symptoms appear, the disease has already been installed in the patient for years.
As it progresses, the symptoms worsen and the autonomy of the person who suffers from it is reduced, as they have difficulties to carry out simple and daily tasks of the daily routine.
Difficulties eating and walking are among the most serious consequences of the disorder.
What are the first symptoms of Parkinson’s?
Here are the first symptoms of Parkinson’s. It is important that in the presence of them you go to the doctor to make the diagnosis and establish the appropriate treatment.
One of the first signs of this disease is an uncontrollable tremor, which usually occurs in the fingers, hands, and legs . An early symptom that recurs in practically 100% of cases.
However, when constipation recurs too often, it is advisable to see a doctor because it can be an early sign of Parkinson’s.
The change in the volume of the voice is another of the early signs of the disease. Also, in some cases, a lower voice volume is accompanied by hoarseness. If this condition does not disappear over the days, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Loss of smell
Although not known to many, loss of smell is another common indication of this disorder. This condition can occur during a cold or flu due to a stuffy nose; however, the odors should return once the person is well. This is not the case with Parkinson’s; An early sign of the disease is having problems smelling certain foods such as bananas or cinnamon.
Another symptom that needs to be paid a lot of attention has to do with sleep problems. In general, those with Parkinson’s in its earliest stage move a lot in bed, and may even kick or punch . Falls from the bed are also common.
These kinds of sudden movements during sleep can be early signs of Parkinson’s disease.
Difficulty of movement
This is another of the signs that is repeated in a high percentage of individuals who suffer from this disorder. They progressively feel their body more and more rigid, especially the arms and legs .
Slouching of the back
Another of the most frequently repeated signs as an early sign of Parkinson’s disease is the hunch of the back , which occurs when the individual is standing.
Dizziness can be linked to low blood pressure, which can be related to this disease. Generally speaking, everyone has had a moment when they got up abruptly and felt dizzy. However, if this situation recurs frequently, it is important to consult your doctor.
Absence of facial expression
This is known as the “mask look” and represents an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease. The face lacks any type of expression, regardless of the individual’s mood.
Diagnosis of Parkinson’s
While there is no specific diagnostic test for this disease, doctors use the patient’s history and perform a neurological exam to detect it .
Specifically, its diagnosis is made from the appearance of at least two of the symptoms described above. Sudden falls and slowness and difficulty in movements are the two main signs that guide the diagnosis of Parkinson’s syndrome.
In the field of medicine there are still many aspects of this disease to be discovered and there are various investigations that are working to address it.
Although there is still no treatment to cure Parkinson’s, medications are used to alleviate the symptoms . These medicines are responsible for increasing the presence of dopamine in the brain in order to correct the consequences of its deficiency. Likewise, drugs responsible for stopping the degradation of dopamine are administered as an alternative.
Deep brain stimulation is a technique used in those cases in which the patient does not get any improvement with the use of medications. It consists of the stimulation of certain parts of the brain through the surgical implantation of electrodes.
This intervention is carried out under strict conditions and is applied in a very low percentage of Parkinson’s patients . It allows the correction of some of the symptoms and slows the loss of neurons.
To delay the progression of symptoms, exercises are also performed, usually with the help of physical and speech therapy.
It is necessary to monitor the general state of health of oneself and to remain attentive to possible symptoms in relatives in order to make early diagnoses as far as possible.
Like other medical disorders, Parkinson’s can lead to a number of complications.
- Dementia: As the disease progresses and an increasing number of brain neurons die, individuals can present a number of cognitive problems. It becomes increasingly difficult for them to think, thus diminishing their capacity for both attention and concentration. This complication usually occurs in the later stages of the disease.
- Emotional changes: another of the frequent complications of this disorder are the emotional changes that individuals present.
- Swallowing problems: Swallowing problems can also develop as the disease progresses. Slower swallowing of both food and drink causes saliva to build up in the mouth, leading to drooling.
- Insomnia : Often, people with the disease have serious problems sleeping at night.
- Bladder disorders: In the later stages of the disease, individuals have problems controlling urine.
- Depression: in addition to complications on a physical level, there are also some related to mental health, such as depression. It is common for people with Parkinson’s disease to experience depression; they continually feel sad and believe that their life is meaningless.
How to live with parkinson’s disease?
Once the disease is diagnosed, as we have pointed out, there is no cure for it. However, there are a number of very simple habits that can be followed to greatly alleviate symptoms and thus improve quality of life.
In relation to diet , it is recommended to consume foods with a high fiber content. In addition, it is important to hydrate properly. All this with the aim of avoiding constipation, one of the most common complications of this disorder.
Of course, it is very important to do physical exercise frequently to increase muscle strength, as well as flexibility and balance . Exercise also helps individuals feel stronger both physically and mentally. There are some very beneficial activities for this disease.
- Yoga: In yoga, movements and postures can help improve both flexibility and balance. A fantastic option to improve the physical condition of those suffering from Parkinson’s.
- Tai-chi: one of the best options since it uses slow movements that improve flexibility and balance, in addition to enhancing muscle strength. Some studies have shown the benefits of tai-chi in patients with Parkinson’s disease, especially to prevent falls.
In addition, it is essential to carry out a series of habits to avoid falls ; in the final stages of Parkinson’s disease, the risk of falls increases markedly. Thus, it is recommended to distribute the weight evenly between the two feet and avoid carrying objects while walking.
In many cases, the first signs of Parkinson’s disease go unnoticed as they are linked to other disorders, such as dizziness or constipation. However, it is important to pay maximum attention, especially if several of them occur at the same time and on a recurring basis. Before the slightest suspicion of this disorder, it is advisable to go to the doctor to establish the most appropriate treatment for each specific case.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.