Parkinson’s Disease

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Overview

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease that gradually increases with time and affects the patient’s movement. It starts gradually and slowly worsens with time. The disease is associated with problems in the basal ganglia of the brain. Even though the disease is progressive, and has no cure, it can be managed significantly with medications.

Causes

Parkinson’s occurs when the levels of dopamine, in the human brain, decrease. This decreased dopamine leads to the involuntary movements exhibited in Parkinson’s.

The dopamine levels decrease because the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for the production of this dopamine, degenerate. Two important causes lead to this degeneration of dopamine producing neurons:

  1. Genes
  2. Environmental factors

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s can be listed as follows:

  • Tremors
  • Slowed down movements
  • Expressionless face
  • Rigid muscles
  • Changes in speech (Becomes slurred or soft)
  • Impaired posture
  • Impaired balance
  • Loss of arm swing while walking

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s is made entirely clinically, with signs and symptoms extracted from the patient’s detailed history, and physical and neurological examination. This is because there is no specific test to confirm the diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Treatment

The treatment is not curative but aimed at minimizing the signs and symptoms and slowing the progress of the disease. This is done by some different medications, some of which are listed below:

  • Carbidopa-Levodopa
  • Dopamine agonist
  • MAO-B inhibitors
  • Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors
  • Anticholinergics
  • Amantadine
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