Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common degenerative illnesses suffered by most of the elderly in the United States.Knowing the different causes of Parkinson’s disease is essential. In order to battle a certain disease, the health practitioner must know the underlying cause of that disease. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease of the neurons. The brain contains neurons that produce dopamine in order for the body’s muscles to be controlled smoothly. If these neurons are impaired, Parkinson’s disease would result. There is no cure yet for Parkinson’s disease, however, there are medicines which can be employed to help control the symptoms.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
Getting acquainted with the factors that cause Parkinson’s disease is a step closer to fighting the disease. As aforementioned, Parkinson’s disease is due to the lack of or the destruction of neurons in the brain. Dopamine, which is produced by the said neurons, act as a messenger and sends signals to the brains. If there is a low quantity of dopamine in the brain, the individual will lose control of his muscles and the movements in certain parts of his body. The less dopamine there is in the brain, the more uncontrollable the individual’s movements become.
There are various factors that could trigger Parkinson’s disease
• Genetic factors – When the mother, father or even one of the grandparents has Parkinson’s disease, there is a great possibility for the offspring to inherit the disease as well. The faulty genes of the person who originally has the disease may cause mutation in the child’s genes, hence, developing Parkinson’s disease in due time.
• Aging and oxidation – As individual ages, the body’s production of the molecules needed to react with the free radicals will become slow. This would result to overpopulation of free radicals. Oxidation may cause damage to cell tissues which could eventually lead to Parkinson’s disease
• Toxic causes – Some strong chemicals or toxins may cause damage to the neurons in the brain, including those that produce dopamine. Some of these toxic chemicals include paraquat, carbon monoxide, mercury and cyanide.
• Drug Induced – Some anti psychotic drugs such as Levodopa has a mechanism of action to lower dopamine production in the brain. Because of this, such drugs could cause Parkinson’s disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Knowing the causes of Parkinson’s disease would help the health practitioner know what kind of treatment method or what type of drug would be best for the individual suffering Parkinson’s disease. The signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease on the other hand would alert the individual that he/she might have the illness. Early detection of this problem would aid in faster treatment. Below are the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:
• Shaking or trembling of certain parts of the body like the hands, fingers, arms, legs, and head. The tremors usually don’t occur while doing regular activities. However, shaking is usually triggered when the individual gets excited, stressed or tired. The shaking or tremors may also occur when the individual is at rest.
• Stiffness of the muscles is also a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease. The limbs and trunk would get rigid, thus limiting movement. Micrographia, or difficulty in writing, generally characterized by penmanship becoming smaller and smaller, could also happen. Difficulty eating could also occur.
• A person with Parkinson’s disease would also suffer form bradykinesia wherein the individual’s movements become slower. Finding one’s balance and regaining good posture also prove to be problems. This is the reason why some people with Parkinson’s disease often fall.
Treatment for Parkinson’s disease
The causes of Parkinson’s disease are very hard to battle since they still have no cure. There are only treatment methods that would aid to increase the production of dopamine in brain by either replacement of the lost dopamine, mimicking or copying the role of dopamine, or protecting what’s left of the dopamine in the brain. There are drugs designed to do either of the three.
• Dopamine agonists and monoamine oxidase type B or MAO-B are medicines used to copy the functions of dopamine. In other words, they act like dopamine and protect the remaining dopamine in the brain. These medicines are often prescribed by doctors to patients who are still at the early stages Parkinson’s disease. These medications are bets prescribed when the causes of Parkinson’s disease have not yet fully destroyed the neurons in the brain. An individual must also be informed of the side effects that these drugs could give. Side effects would include nausea, constipation and drowsiness.
• The most common drug prescribed to patients with Parkinson’s disease is levodopa (Sinemet). This drug will replace the lost dopamine in the brain. Upon entering the brain, the drug would convert itself into dopamine. Levodopa is not usually prescribed on its own; it is often partnered with another drug called carbidopa. Carbidopa protects the breakdown of levodopa before reaches the brain. Some side effects of these drugs would include painful cramps and sudden involuntary movements.
• Surgery can also be performed for the individuals who cannot anymore control their movement and those with tremors that have become unmanageable. The surgery is termed as deep brain stimulation or DBS. This is done by implanting electrodes into the brain so aid the individual in controlling his movements
• Aside from surgery and medications, a person can also help himself to better manage and live with Parkinson’s disease. Getting adequate rest and downtime and having regular exercises to ensure that the muscles are worked out regularly are recommended. Good examples of regular exercises are walking to help flex the feet and toes, stretching of arms and jogging.
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that one would have for life. It is therefore best to learn to live with the disease and not let it rule one’s future. It is indeed important to know what the causes of Parkinson’s disease are so that one can better manage the symptoms and live with, and despite having, the disease.