Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that occurs as a result of the degeneration of brain cells (neurodegeneration), particularly those responsible for the production of dopamine. This causes a decrease in dopamine levels which then leads to impairment of the motor system and movement.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
- Physical Symptoms
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
- Decreased facial expression
- Slowed, quieter speech, and monotone voice
- Rigidity or stiffness
- Difficulty walking, shuffling gait, feet freezing or seeming to stick to the floor
- Frequent falls
- Psychological Symptoms
- Other Symptoms
- Short-term memory loss in early stages and dementia in advanced stages
- Excessive sweating
- Bloating, constipation
- Frequent urination, urinary incontinence
- Loss of sense of taste
- Dizziness when standing up due to drop in blood pressure (postural hypotension)
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
The exact causes of Parkinson’s disease remain unknown, but there are various factors that are believed to play a role, including:
- Genetic factors, as certain gene mutations appear to increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
- Environmental factors, such as exposure to certain toxins over an extended period of time, whether through inhalation or consumption. However, which particular toxins or environmental substances can cause Parkinson’s disease is unknown.
Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
At present there is no treatment to cure or reverse the effects of Parkinson’s disease. The following treatments are available to alleviate symptoms and slow down the progression of the condition:
- Treatment with medication, whereby medication is used to activate the dopamine system.
- Deep brain stimulation surgical treatment, in which surgery is performed to implant electrodes into a targeted area of the brain to stimulate and provide electrical impulses to the brain. It can be used for patients who have already been treated using medication but who have shown no positive response to the medications and continue to experience an increase in symptoms.
The doctor will determine the best treatment option for each individual patient.