What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s is a disease that affects the dopamine-producing neurons located in a particular region of our brain known as the substantia nigra. During the early stages, the tremors are hardly noticeable, but they gradually tend to increase over a period, if they are left neglected. Not all individuals diagnosed with the disease experience all the symptoms, and the symptoms also vary in the form of severity and progression.
Many of our simple daily tasks are also affected due to this disease such as; our ability to walk, talk, and even sleep if the disease isn’t addressed during its early stages.
Being aware of what you need to look out for, can help you control this disease successfully.
Here are some early signs of Parkinson’s disease:
- Movement: There may be a tremor in the hands.
- Coordination: A reduced sense of coordination and balance can cause people to drop items they are holding. They may be more likely to fall.
- Gait: The person’s posture may change so that they lean forward slightly as if they were hurrying. They may also develop a shuffling gait.
- Facial expression: This can become fixed, due to changes in the nerves that control facial muscles.
- Voice: There may be a tremor in the voice, or the person may speak more softly than before.
- Handwriting: This may become more cramped and smaller.
- Sense of smell: A loss of sense of smell can be an early sign.
- Sleep problems: These are a feature of Parkinson’s, and they may be an early sign. Restless legs may contribute to this.
Other common symptoms include:
- mood changes, including depression
- difficulty chewing and swallowing
- problems with urination
- skin problems
- sleep problems
REM sleep disorder: Authors of a study published in 2015 describe another neurological condition, REM sleep disorder, as a “powerful predictor” for Parkinson’s disease and some other neurological conditions.
Causes and risk factors
Low dopamine levels: Scientists have linked low or falling levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, with Parkinson’s disease. This happens when cells that produce dopamine die in the brain.
Dopamine plays a role in sending messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. Low dopamine levels can make it harder for people to control their movements.
As dopamine levels fall in a person with Parkinson’s disease, their symptoms gradually become more severe.
Low norepinephrine levels: Norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter, is important for controlling many automatic body functions, such as the circulation of the blood.
In Parkinson’s disease, the nerve endings that produce this neurotransmitter die. This may explain why people with Parkinson’s disease experience not only movement problems but also fatigue, constipation, and orthostatic hypotension, when blood pressure changes on standing up, leading to light-headedness.
Lewy bodies: A person with Parkinson’s disease may have clumps of protein in their brain known as Lewy bodies. Lewy body dementia is a different condition, but it has links with Parkinson’s disease.
Genetic factors: Sometimes, Parkinson’s disease appears to run in families, but it is not always hereditary. Researchers are trying to identify specific genetic factors that may lead to Parkinson’s disease, but it appears that not one but a number of factors are responsible.
For this reason, they suspect that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may lead to the condition.
Possible environmental factors could include exposure to toxins, such as pesticides, solvents, metals, and other pollutants.
Autoimmune factors: Scientists reported in JAMA in 2017 that they had found evidence of a possible genetic link between Parkinson’s disease and autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2018, researchers investigating health records in Taiwan found that people with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARD) had a 1.37-higher chance of also having Parkinson’s disease than people without ARD.
The importance of recognizing early symptoms
Many people think that the early signs of Parkinson’s are normal signs of aging. For this reason, they may not seek help.
However, treatment is more likely to be effective if a person takes it early in the development of Parkinson’s disease. For this reason, it is important to get an early diagnosis if possible.
If treatment does not start until the person has clear symptoms, it will not be as effective.
Moreover, a number of other conditions can have similar symptoms.
- drug-induced Parkinsonism
- head trauma
- Lewy body dementia
- corticobasal degeneration
- multiple system atrophy
- progressive supranuclear palsy
The similarity to other conditions can make it hard for doctors to diagnose Parkinson’s disease in the early stages.
Movement symptoms may start on one side of the body and gradually affect both sides.
Parkinson’s often causes problems with daily activities. But very simple exercises and stretches may help you move around and walk more safely.
To improve walking
- Walk carefully.
- Pace yourself — try not to move too quickly.
- Let your heel hit the floor first.
- Check your posture and stand up straight. This will help you to shuffle less.
To avoid falling
- Don’t walk backward.
- Try to not carry things while walking.
- Try to avoid leaning and reaching.
- To turn around, make a U-turn. Don’t pivot on your feet.
- Remove all tripping hazards in your house such as loose rugs.
When getting dressed
- Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready. Avoid rushing.
- Select clothes that are easy to put on and take off.
- Try using items with Velcro instead of buttons.
- Try wearing pants and skirts with elastic waistbands. These may be easier than buttons and zippers.
Yoga uses targeted muscle movement to build muscle, increase mobility, and improve flexibility. People with Parkinson’s may notice yoga even helps control tremors in some affected limbs.
How Parkinson’s Disease treatment at Xovak Pharma is different?
Parkinson’s is co-related with kampavata in Ayurveda. In old age, Vata dosha is more predominant in the body. This vata relocates into the brain and dries up the brain cells leading to tremors and instability. Parkinson’s disease reflects massive vitiation of Vata which occupies almost all channels of the body. Weak digestive fire, disturbed digestion, and presence of toxins (ama) are generally observed in the patient at gastrointestinal as well as cellular levels, which provide a conducive environment for vitiation of Vata. Natural Ayurvedic home remedies and herbs for digestion along with nerve tonics are administered to restore digestive function both in the gastrointestinal tract and at a cellular level. Specific diets and regimen are advised. Parkinson’s disease treatment in Ayurveda provides special Neuro-Rasayanas which stimulate neurotransmitters and helps in overcoming problems as well as relaxing the mind.