What is Parkinson’s Disease? Causes, Symptoms, Stages, and Relief Methods?
What is Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s disease (PD), or Shaking Palsy, is a neurodegenerative disorder that occurs to the nerve cells in a certain part of the brain, called the gray matter. Wherein the cells that create the gray matter start getting damaged, therefore, dopamine level decreases (a neurotransmitter in the brain). When dopamine level drops to 60-80%, PD symptoms begin to appear.
This disease causes tremors, rigidity, or walking difficulty, as well as imbalance and focus impairments. The symptoms start gradually and slowly, and become a source of concern with time. They begin with speaking and walking difficulty, then turn into behavioral changes, fatigue, and sleep problems.
Age is one of the risk factors, wherein although PD occurs to people above 60, it can be developed early for about 10% of patients in their 50s and sometimes the youth.
It is worth mentioning that gene mutations are closely linked with Parkinson’s disease, and there are many cases that have family members with PD. The question is, what is Parkinson’s disease? Causes, symptoms, stages, and relief methods?
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
The early symptoms of PD before motor symptoms, which are the initial symptoms include the following:
- Tone changes.
- Losing sense of smell.
- Difficulty writing.
- Stooped posture.
As for the secondary symptoms, they include the following:
- Tendency to fall.
- The arms stop swinging when walking.
- Tendency to trip when walking.
- Blank facial expression.
- Low and muffled voice.
- Slow movement.
- Decreased blinking and swallowing rate.
The patient might suffer from the following physical and mental disorders:
- Tremors, meaning involuntary shaking of certain parts of the body.
- Muscle rigidity.
- Slow movement.
And other more severe symptoms, such as:
- Anxiety and stress.
- Increased risk of skin cancer.
- Insomnia and sleep impairments, including talking and moving during sleep.
- Memory impairments and inability to concentrate.
- Vision impairments.
The patient might not be aware of the signs and the initial symptoms of PD since they are similar to the other diseases. Until the body tries to send warning signals by movement disorder before the disease aggravates and the patient has movement difficulties.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
People do not develop this disease out of nowhere, for many factors help develop it, especially when together. Although the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is not known, the helping factors include the following:
- A decreased level of dopamine or norepinephrine in the body (a chemical that regulates dopamine).
- Having abnormal proteins called Lewy’ bodies in the brain.
- Wherein people between 50-60 years old are more prone to developing PD, while only 5 – 10% of PD patients are in their 40s.
- Men are one and a half times more susceptible to developing Parkinson’s disease than women.
- The body’s exposure to certain types of chemicals increases the risk of PD.
- White people are thought to be more prone to developing PD.
- Serious head injuries, such incidents increase the chance of developing PD.
- Genetics and family history with Parkinson’s disease. People who have close relatives with PD are more prone to developing it.
After answering the question, what is Parkinson’s disease? Causes and symptoms, we will tackle the stages and relief methods of the disease.
Stages of Parkinson’s Disease
First of all, note that shaking palsy is a gradual disease, meaning that its effect is not strong in the beginning, and the condition deteriorates with time. Usually, in order to classify the stages of PD, the doctors would use Hoehn and Yahr scale, which helps figure out the proper curative care for the patient.
In general, PD Stages are divided into the following 5 stages:
As usual, the first stage of Parkinson’s disease is the mildest and least concerning. The patient would barely feel any noticeable symptoms, and can practice their daily activities with no problems. In case there were any noticeable symptoms, they would be in one side of the body, and would be very mild.
Going from the first stage to the second might take months or years, depending on the patient’s body.
In general, PD patients face the following symptoms in this stage:
- Facial expression changes.
- Muscle rigidity.
During this stage, the patient would have a difficulty performing daily tasks. And would take a longer time doing so, but would not feel imbalanced. It is worth noting that the symptoms occur to both sides of the body, wherein the patient will feel changes in their facial expressions, when walking, and when standing.
In this stage, the previous symptoms might stay the same. And other, more prominent symptoms might appear, which would significantly hinder the patient when performing daily tasks. Movement will become slower, and the patients will become less able to do activities. The patients might also suffer from imbalance, and become prone to fall. Note that during this stage, the patient would need a lot of help from others to perform tasks.
Going from the third stage to the big stage results in major changes. The patient will not be able to walk and stand without a walker. And the responses and movement of the patient would become much slower. Therefore, they would need constant care.
This stage is the last and most advanced stage of multiple sclerosis, wherein the symptoms become more severe and accompany the patient the whole day. The symptoms include extreme difficulty standing, and it might even be impossible. The patient might need a wheelchair to go from one place to another, and might suffer from hallucinations, confusion, and illusions.
Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease
The patients are diagnosed according to their physical, neurological, and health condition. And the signs and symptoms significantly facilitate the diagnosis since there is no specific test for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease.
Certain tests can help diagnose PD and rule out other condition, but they do not confirm the disease, such as:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Computed tomography scan (CT).
- X-ray imaging.
- The dopamine transporter (DAT).
Now that we answered the question, what is Parkinson’s disease? Symptoms, causes, and stages, let us finally tackle the most important part, Parkinson’s disease relief methods.
PD Relief Methods
Shaking palsy relief involves making simple changes in the lifestyle, as well as committing to the relief method. Moreover, PD patients are advised to exercise, commit to a healthy, balanced diet, and undergo physical therapy. PD relief includes a group of changes in lifestyle, medications, and treatments.
The available treatments for PD include the following:
- Levodopa medication.
This medication is very common in relieving Parkinson’s disease because it helps increase dopamine levels. Around 75% of PD patients have a temporary response to this type of medicine, and if there were no noticeable results, carbidopa would be given with levodopa. Wherein carbidopa helps prevent levodopa breakdown in the periphery.
- Dopamine agonists.
Dopamine agonists imitate the function of dopamine in the brain. Note that it is less efficient than levodopa, but it is temporarily useful if the levodopa medication was less effective. Dopamine agonists include Ropinirole, Pramipexole, and Bromocriptine.
These medications help reduce the acetylcholine effect in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. And they include Benztropine (Cogentin), and Trihexyphenidyl.
- Amantadine antibiotic.
This antibiotic helps inhibit the effect of viruses in the body, and it provides short-term relief for dyskinesia (involuntary movements), which might be one of the side effects of levodopa medications.
- COMT inhibitors.
Catechol inhibitors, or methyltransferase inhibitors help prolong the effect of levodopa. Examples of COMT inhibitors are Tasmar, Entacapone, and Tolcapone. Note that tolcapone might cause liver damage, therefore it is the last option for PD patients in case they had no response for the treatment.
- MAO-B Inhibitors.
These inhibitors help inhibit monoamine oxidase b enzyme (MAO B), which is the enzyme that damages dopamine in the brain. Examples of these inhibitors are Selegiline (deprenyl), and Rasagiline (azilect).
However, before taking these inhibitors, one must consult a doctor since they react with many types of medications, such as:
- Certain narcotics.
- John’s wort.
- Ciprofloxacin antibiotic.
With time, the body gets used to these medications. As a result, their effectiveness reduces, especially at advanced stages of the disease. And it must be pointed out that the side effects of some of these medications might outweigh their benefits.
Surgical treatments are sought in case the patient did not respond to medications.
There are two types of PD-related surgeries:
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS).
For this procedure, the surgeon would plant electrodes within certain areas of the brain. These electrodes send impulses through a generator that would help alleviate PD symptoms.
- Duopa Pump.
The surgeon would place a pump near the small intestines in order to pump in levodopa and carbidopa.
Simple exercises help facilitate movement and walking for PD patients, since this disease hinders practicing daily activities.
You can follow these tips to improve walking:
- Walk carefully.
- Regulate movements so that they are not sudden and quick.
- Flatten your heel on the ground first.
- Make sure to stand up straight.
To avoid falling, follow these tips:
- Remove obstacles from the floor, such as rugs, toys, and others.
- Avoid walking backward.
- Avoid bending over while walking.
- Do not carry items during walking.
As for tips to consider when getting dressed:
- Wear loose clothes that are easy to put on and take off.
- Do not rush, and take enough time.
- Wear clothes with zippers instead of buttons.
- Wear elastic waist pants.
You can also do yoga in order to facilitate muscle movement and improve flexibility since yoga contributes to controlling the affected limbs.
The diet plays a critical role in Parkinson’s disease relief. This disease results from dopamine levels decrease in the brain, and these levels can be adjusted through food. Therefore, following a healthy diet that includes certain types of food can prevent PD aggravation and progression.
The ideal foods for Parkinson’s disease patients include the following:
Foods rich in antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress, which in turn prevents brain damage. Foods rich in antioxidants include vegetables like eggplant, fruits like berries, and nuts.
- Fava beans
Fava beans contain levodopa, one of the most important chemicals for PD relief.
- Omega 3
Omega 3 is one of the most important good fats for the heart, and it heavily exists in flax seeds, salmon, and oysters.
Herbal supplements are one of the best Parkinson’s disease relief methods, and they include the following:
Moringa contains antimicrobics, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, anticancer, and antidiabetics. And it is rich in calcium, potassium, sodium, and iron. Moreover, it has 12 times more vitamin C more than orange, and 10 times more vitamin A than in carrots. And over 400 studies confirmed its effectiveness in relieving Parkinson’s disease.
Mucuna is a traditional herb used in Indian medicine to relieve shaking palsy. It is rich in dopamine, which deficiency is a primary cause of PD.
Echinacea Purpurea leaves have a positive effect on protecting antioxidant cells and mitochondria function. Research indicate that this plant enhances epithelial cell growth, which helps relieve neurodegenerative cases like PD.
Studies revealed that Milk Thistle improves brain function, and help prevent PD progression. Moreover, it contributes to cleansing the body and liver from accumulated toxins resulted from taking many chemical medications for a long time.
The effect this herb has on the nervous system makes it a leading natural relief for shaking palsy, and it is excellent for balancing metabolism. Ashwagandha is a rare type of plant, called Adaptogens, and they contribute to relieving depression that accompanies PD due to dopamine deficiency.
Astragalus Membranaceus contributes to relieving muscle weakness, fatigue, depression, and stress. Therefore, it alleviates Parkinson’s disease symptoms well.
There are also other types of herbs:
Ginkgo is probably one of the best medicinal herbs, and over 3000 scientific studies were held to find out all of its benefits. Ginkgo leaves contribute to relieving shaking palsy by increasing blood flow in the veins and ensuring that it reaches the brain. As a result, a large amount of oxygen would reach the cells.
Red clover was proven effective in relieving Parkinson’s disease, and getting red of hand tremors, as well as relieving swallowing difficulty in PD patients.
Sage is probably one of the oldest medicinal herbs ever, and it is usually used for relieving stomachache and stomach disorders. According to studies, it contributes to relieving Parkinson’s disease, and reduces hands and feet tremors.
Sulfur naturally exists in all body cells, and its deficiency causes cell damage and death. Therefore, ensuring that it exists within normal ranges in the body ensures relieving Parkinson’s disease.
Numerous studies proved that folic acid has plays a main role in protecting mature nerve cells from age-related diseases.
Sidr honey with royal jelly contributes to relieving PD by improving blood supply to the brain. And it helps improve brain function, strengthen the body, supply it with energy, and reduce blood clotting.
Rosemary leaves have many benefits, wherein it increases concentration and strengthens the memory. Furthermore, it increases blood flow in the body, and ensures that it reached the brain and limbs, which improves movement and walking in PD patients.
Studies indicate that Chinese skullcap helps protect against dopamine nerve cells damage, which is incredible for PD patients.
Verbena officinalis is also an excellent herb for relieving shaking palsy and its symptoms, such as insomnia and hallucinations.
The Following Products Also Contribute to Relieving PD:
Zinc is a crucial supplement, and it helps relieve focus and smelling disorders, which are some of the most important PD symptoms.
According to studies, pomegranate peel is proven effective in relieving brain inflammation, protecting against dementia, relieving PD symptoms especially digestive system disorders, and improving metabolism.
The leaves of this blessed tree help improve brain functions in general. And it relieves memory impairments, reduces the risk of hallucinations and dementia. Therefore, it is excellent for limiting PD symptoms.
Lion’s mane mushroom contains a group of compounds that help improve the integrity of the brain, strengthen the memory, and relieve nerves. Therefore, it is an incredible relief for Parkinson’s disease.
Nigella sativa is an excellent antibiotic, and it is rich in antioxidants, antimicrobics, and antifungals. Moreover, it contains numerous minerals, such as calcium, potassium, iron, and phosphor. In addition to amino acids, such as lysine, tyrosine, leucine, proline, and methionine. Using Nigella sativa helps improve digestive system function, and relieve chronic constipation.
Here we have comprehensively answered the questions, what is Parkinson’s disease? Causes, Symptoms, Stages, and Relief Methods?
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