How to Manage Parkinson’s Disease Patients
Parkinson’s disease is a central nervous system illness that affects the motion and movement of its victims. Being a neurological disorder, its first symptom is difficulty with movement.
According to neurologists, a substance known as dopamine in the brain ensures the smooth movement of muscles in the body. This dopamine in the brain is produced in one corner of the brain known as the substantia nigra. Parkinson’s disease occurs when the substantia nigra cells begin to die gradually. The death of these cells drives the reduction of the muscle movement substance in the brain-dopamine. When dopamine reduces below 50%, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease begin to appear.
Presently, there is no remedy for Parkinson’s disease. It is a neurological disorder that worsens rapidly. It affects the movement and develops gradually. It progresses over time and gets complicated when it is not properly managed.
Being a progressive disease, its symptoms are usually mild at the onset of the disease but develops and worsens over time. The stages of Parkinson’s disease can be grouped under 5 categories which include;
Parkinson’s disease is still at the onset stage. Symptoms here are still mild; they come and disappear at intervals. In some people, symptoms may not even be noticed at this stage. Stage 1 Parkinson’s disease may not cripple your daily activities as you might rarely feel its symptoms.
This is a stage that progresses from stage 1. However, the progression can be so rapid that it can occur within 1 to 3 months. At this stage, symptoms become noticeable. The symptoms of stage 2 Parkinson’s disease include;
- Stiffness of the muscles
- Facial expression changes
Stiffness of muscles can make movement difficult. It slows down your daily activities and stresses you out. At this stage, the symptoms might only be noticed on one part of the body and not the whole body. You may still be able to regulate your balance at this stage, but there is a great chance that you would begin to lose control of it soon, especially when your case is approaching stage 3.
Also known as the middle stage. Here, symptoms worsen and interfere greatly with Your daily activities. Movements become slower, and loss of balance becomes obvious. In addition, falling episodes become constant as you are beginning to lose control over your body balance. A person with stage 3 Parkinson’s disease would need assistance and support to carry out few tasks.
At this point, you tend to lose balance completely. You may need a walker or someone to help you stand and even walk. People with stage 4 Parkinson’s disease are advised not to live alone as it can be unsafe for them.
Patients need round-the-clock assistance for everything. Wheelchairs can be introduced at this point to aid movement. At this stage, psychological issues begin to set in. The patient begins to hallucinate, get confused, and feel delusional.
- Movement; movement becomes a difficult task. Tremor begins to occur, especially in the hands.
- Gait; Parkinson’s disease changes the standing, sitting, and walking posture of its victims. This is as a result of the person trying to adjust to a more comfortable position as a result of muscles and joints ache.
- Coordination; Parkinson’s disease patients can become clumsy and lack coordination. Things could fall from their hands easily, and they might experience frequent falls.
- Facial expression changes; this is as a result of the changes that occur in the muscles that hold the facial tissues.
- Voice; the voice of the patient can be shaky with tremor through the way it sounds. This also explains the weirdly soft voice of Parkinson’s disease patients.
- Sense of smell; people with Parkinson’s disease tend to lose their sense of smell as symptoms develop.
- Handwriting; their handwritings become the worst version of their normal ones
- Difficulty sleeping; Parkinson’s disease patients may experience sleep difficulty.
Other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include;
- Issues with urinating
- Depression and constant mood swings
- Skin issues like too oily or crusty and flaky skin
- Issues with chewing and swallowing
- Slow movement
- Stiff limbs
- Difficulty blinking
- Attention problems
- Anxiety and psychosis
Causes and Risk Factors
Research is still ongoing about the causes of Parkinson’s disease. Some researchers claim that the causes could be a combination of environmental and genetic factors. However, when the dopamine substance in the brain reduces drastically as a result of the death of the substantia nigra cells, then Parkinson’s disease occurs. In addition, in the brains of all Parkinson’s disease patients, a protein known as Lewy bodies was found. Notwithstanding, researchers have not been able to pinout for a certainty the role of this protein in the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Despite the ongoing research on the causes of Parkinson’s disease, a number of factors have been identified to increase one’s chances of developing Parkinson’s disease. The following are the risk factors of Parkinson’s disease;
- Age; Parkinson’s disease usually appears in people between ages 50 and 60. When symptoms appear before this age range, it is called the onset of Parkinson’s disease. It is quite uncommon and transpires in about 5-10 % of cases.
- Sex; research holds that men have more tendencies of developing Parkinson’s disease than women.
- Family history; people whose direct relatives suffer from Parkinson’s disease are more likely to develop it later in their lives.
- Toxins; getting exposed to certain toxic compounds can increase your risks of developing Parkinson’s disease. Some of these toxins include pesticides, pollutants, solvents, and metals.
- Race; whites have more tendencies of suffering from Parkinson’s disease than blacks.
- Head trauma; severe injury to the head can cause Parkinson’s disease.
- Reduced dopamine levels
- Reduced norepinephrine levels; norepinephrine is a compound responsible for some automatic functions and processes of certain organs in the body. An example of one of these processes is the circulation of blood. When the norepinephrine transmitter dies, Parkinson’s disease sets in.
- Lewy bodies; when certain proteins begin to develop and accumulate in the brain, there is a high tendency that you are on your way to developing Parkinson’s disease.
- Autoimmune factors; research found out that some autoimmune factors like rheumatoid arthritis can also be a causal factor of Parkinson’s disease.
When Parkinson’s disease worsens, the following events occur;
- Cognitive problems; the patient, at this point, would need assistance with things as basic as thinking. Cognitive problems that come with Parkinson’s disease are usually not responsive to treatment.
- Emotional and psychological issues; depression and anxiety become worse.
- Chewing; chewing becomes difficult at this point as the muscles have become too stiff to allow the smooth movement of the jaw.
- Sleep problems heighten such that the patient would barely sleep for 2 straight hours without waking up at intervals.
- The bladder; the bladder at some point, begins to malfunction. This malfunctioning includes lack of control over urine and sometimes difficulty with urination.
- Pains; the body begins to ache badly at this point.
- Fatigue that confines you to one place is a symptom of complicated Parkinson’s disease.
- Sexual dysfunction; Parkinson’s disease comes with the total loss of interest in sexual activities for Parkinson’s disease patients.
- Blood pressure; a dangerous drop in blood pressure can also be a complicated symptom of Parkinson’s disease.
- Turmeric has been found to lower the risks of Parkinson’s disease by 50%. Include turmeric in your meals and smoothies.
- Consume flavonoids in a moderate amount. It can help lower the risks as well.
- Avoid toxic compounds
- Use cooking oils once and avoid constant reheating.
Parkinson’s disease patients can incorporate the following into their diets to help them ease symptoms.
- Antioxidant-rich foods should be included in their diets.
- Fava beans should be part of their daily diet as fava beans contain properties that are used in the production of Parkinson’s disease medications.
- Oily fishes, which are natural sources of omega 3, are essential for Parkinson’s disease patients. They are packed with compounds that can help improve the condition of Parkinson’s disease patients.
Treatment and Management
The treatment of Parkinson’s disease includes the uses of drugs and medications like;
- Levodopa, which is known to boost dopamine levels.
- Dopamine agonist, which is used as a substitute for dopamine in the brain. It imitates the function of dopamine in the brain, pending the time levodopa boosts the dopamine levels.
- Amantadine (Symmetrel)
- COMT inhibitors
- MAO B inhibitors
Though in some cases, these medications improve the condition of Parkinson’s disease patients as well as improve the quality of their lives. However, medications become less effective with time. In critical cases, the surgical remedy is recommended for people whose conditions are not responding to medications.
In conclusion, Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects movement and its victim’s general body function. Proper management and early diagnosis help prevent complications.