What is Parkinson’s disease?
According to the NHS website, Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become gradually damaged over many years.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS says there are three main symptoms, including shaking or shaking, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness.
Other symptoms include balance problems, loss of smell, nerve pain, excessive sweating and dizziness.
Some people may also suffer from sleep deprivation, excessive saliva production and difficulty swallowing, causing malnutrition and dehydration.
What are the first signs?
Symptoms may begin gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one part of the body.
In the early stages, people may show little or no expression and their arms may not swing when walking.
Speech may also become soft or slurred, causing the condition to worsen over time.
What are the causes?
Some scientists believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors causes Parkinson’s disease.
It occurs after a person experiences loss of nerve cells in part of their brain.
However, it is not known why the loss of nerve cells associated with the condition occurs, but research is underway to identify possible causes.
Scientists say genetic factors can increase a person’s risk of developing the disease, and therefore may run in families.
Other factors attributed to causing the condition include environmental problems such as pollution, although such links are inconclusive, the NHS says.
How is the diagnosis made?
There are no tests that can definitively show whether someone has the disease, but doctors can make a diagnosis based on symptoms, medical history and a physical examination.
A specialist will ask the person to write or draw, walk or speak to check for general symptoms of the condition.
They can even check if it is difficult to make facial expressions and if the limbs are moving slowly.
How many people are affected?
According to the charity Parkinson’s UK, around 145,000 people in Britain are living with Parkinson’s disease.
What happens when someone is diagnosed?
According to the charity, it is a legal obligation to contact the DVLA because a diagnosed person will need to undergo a medical or driving assessment.
The organization also advises people to contact insurers and inquire about available financial support.
People are also encouraged to exercise more.
Can it be treated?
Although there is no cure, there are a number of treatments available to help reduce symptoms.
The main remedies are medications, exercise, therapy and surgery, which can help people in different ways.
What medications are there and what are the side effects?
Medication can be helpful in improving the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as tremors and movement problems.
There are three main types that are commonly used: levodopa, dopamine agonist, or an MAO-B inhibitor. Each of them can affect people in different ways.
The medications do have some side effects, including impulsive and compulsive behavior, hallucinations, sleep problems and blood pressure changes.
What therapy is available?
There are several therapies available through the NHS for people with Parkinson’s.
These include physiotherapy to reduce muscle stiffness, occupational therapy to help with daily tasks and speech and language coaching.
Does this change the way you live?
Most people’s life expectancy will not change much, although more advanced symptoms can lead to greater disability and poor health.
It can also cause some cognitive problems and changes in mood and mental health.
People with Parkinson’s are being encouraged to exercise more often, with scientists saying that 2.5 hours of exercise per week is enough to slow the progression of symptoms.