Parkinson disease is a complex progressive neurological disease involving the loss of neurons in a part of the brain called the “substantia nigra.” This results in a reduction in the amount of dopamine, a chemical messenger or neurotransmitter. When this important chemical in the brain is depleted, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease develop.
There are two types of symptoms: motor (movement) and non-motor (non-movement). Common motor symptoms include: essential tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness and impairment of balance later.
Non-motor symptoms vary from person-to-person and more so than the motor symptoms. They can include, low-blood pressure, constipation, speech difficulties , depression, Fatigue, Sleep problems, osteoporosis etc
Some conditions mimic Parkinson’s but doesn’t have actual disease, they are challenging to non specialists and needs specialist input
Atypical Parkinsonisms are most likely to affect people in their 50s and 60s, and include disorders such as:
- Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), which is second only to Alzheimer’s disease as a degenerative cause of dementia
- Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a disorder that affects patients’ vision and balance with frequent falls
- Multiple system atrophy (MSA), which involves the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that controls internal functions such as digestion, heartbeat and breathing) and can affect coordination
- Corticobasal syndrome (CBD), a rare atypical Parkinsonian disorder in which symptoms often involve one side of the body more than the other
Dementia with Lewy Body
Mimics Parkinson’s but with more cognitive decline, visual hallucinations
Initially, Parkinson’s disease causes physical symptoms. Problems with cognitive function, including forgetfulness and difficulty with concentration, may arise later. As the disease gets worse with time, many people develop dementia, which causes profound memory loss and makes it difficult to maintain relationships with others.
Parkinson’s disease dementia can cause problems with:
- Speaking and communicating with others
- Being able to solve problems
- Understanding abstract concepts
- Difficulty paying attention
If you have Parkinson’s disease and dementia, eventually you probably won’t be able to live by yourself. Dementia affects your ability to care of yourself, even if your Parkinson’s disease allows you to physically perform daily tasks.
Living with Parkinson’s Disease
Coping with Parkinson’s disease, the motor system disorder, can be frustrating because of its common symptoms—trembling, stiffness (often called rigidity), slow movements, and the loss of balance and coordination. A good deal of that frustration comes from the loss of control that you once had over your body. It can also be emotionally overwhelming to know that there is currently no cure for the disease.
Nonetheless, people have a number of tools at their disposal for better managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and living a healthy, enjoyable life.
Here’s what can help: