Broadcaster Jeremy Paxman recently revealed that he has Parkinson’s disease. But what causes it and how can it be treated?
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that affects certain areas of the brain.
What are the symptoms of these conditions?
According to the NHS, there are three main symptoms of tremors or shaking: slowness in movement, muscle stiffness, and slowness.
Other symptoms include dizziness, loss of balance, loss in smell, nerve pain and excessive sweating.
People can also experience sleep deprivation, excessive saliva production, and difficulty swallowing. This can lead to malnutrition and even dehydration.
What are the early signs?
The symptoms may appear gradually, with some cases beginning with a slight tremor in one area of the body.
People may not show much expression in the beginning stages. Their arms may not move when they walk.
Slurred speech can also occur, which can lead to speech problems.
What are the causes?
Scientists believe that Parkinson’s disease is caused by a combination genetic and environmental factors.
It occurs when a person loses nerve cells in a particular part of their brain.
However, it isn’t known why nerve cells are losing.
Scientists believe that genetics are responsible for 10 to 15% of Parkinson’s disease. This can be passed on from one generation to the next.
Other factors may also be involved in the condition, such as pollution or environmental problems. However the NHS states that such links are not conclusive.
How can it be diagnosed?
While no test can prove the existence of the disease, doctors can diagnose it using symptoms, medical history, and a physical exam.
To determine if there are any signs, a specialist will ask you to draw, walk, or write.
They might also look for difficulties in making facial expressions and slow limb movement.
How many people are affected?
Around 145,000 people are living with Parkinson’s Disease in the UK.
What happens if someone gets diagnosed?
According to Parkinson’s UK it is a legal requirement that you contact the DVLA as a diagnosed person will require a medical or driving assessment.
The organisation advises people to get in touch with their insurance providers to learn about financial support.
People are encouraged also to get more exercise.
Can it be treated
Although there is no cure, there are many ways to treat the symptoms.
There are three main treatments: medication, exercise, and therapy. Each can be helpful in different ways.
What medications are available?
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such shaking and movement problems, can be improved by medication.
There are three main types of dopamine agonists, levodopa and dopamine agonists that are commonly used.
Each can have a different impact on people.
Some side effects include compulsive and impulsive behaviour, hallucinations as well as sleep problems and blood pressure changes.
What kind of therapy is available?
The NHS has many treatments for Parkinson’s.
They include physiotherapy to reduce muscle stiffness and occupational therapy to assist with daily tasks.
Is this going to change your life?
While most people will live a long life expectancy, more advanced symptoms can cause increased disability or poor health.
It can also lead some cognitive issues, mood changes, and mental health problems.
Parkinson’s sufferers are encouraged to exercise regularly. Scientists suggest that 2.5 hours of exercise per day is enough to slow down the progression.
Parkinson’s affects one in 500 people and causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.
It is a progressive neurological disorder that causes the destruction of cells in the brain responsible for controlling movement.
Because the nerve cells that produce dopamine have died, it is known that sufferers have a reduced supply of dopamine.
Although there is no cure or way to stop the disease’s progression, hundreds of scientific trials are underway.
Muhammad Ali, boxing’s greatest legend, was taken by the disease in 2016.