Parkinson's Disease or PD is just one of a group of conditions called motor system disorders. Motor system disorders as well as Parkinson’s Disease are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are as follows:
- trembling hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face
- firmness, or stiffness of the limbs and torso
- slowness of movement
- impaired balance and coordination
As the above symptoms become more prominent, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. Parkinson’s Disease usually affects people with advanced age (over the age of 50). Early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are subtle and gradually become more noticeable. As the disease progresses, the shaking, or tremor, which affects the majority of PD patients may begin to interfere with daily activities. Other symptoms may include the following:
- depression and other emotional changes
- difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking
- urinary problems or constipation
- skin problems
- sleep disruptions
In some people Parkinson’s Disease progresses more quickly than in others. Parkinson’s Disease is both a chronic and a progressive disease. Even thought Parkinson’s Disease is progressive, some people become severely disabled through the progression of the disease, while others experience only minor motor disruptions. No available blood or laboratory tests exist in order to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease.
Currently, no cure for Parkinson’s Disease exists; however, a variety of medications are available and can provide remarkable relief from PD symptoms. Most frequently, patients are prescribed levodopa combined with carbidopa. Nerve cells in the brain can use levodopa to make dopamine and replenish the brain's decreasing supply. Carbidopa delays the conversion of levodopa into dopamine until it reaches the brain. Anticholinergics may help control tremor and rigidity symptoms. Consider the following list of drugs used to treat the Parkinson’s Disease:
These drugs cause the neurons in the brain to react as they would to dopamine. In some cases, surgery may be appropriate if the disease doesn't respond to drugs. A therapy called deep brain stimulation (DBS) has now been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Deep Brain Stimulation decreases the involuntary movements of the body called dyskinesias that are a common side effect of levodopa. Deep Brain Stimulation requires careful programming of the stimulator device in order to work correctly.