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Parkinson’s Disease & How to Detect it Early?

Parkinson’s disease is a form of neurological illness that hampers one’s mobility and makes one unable to move. The symptoms of the said disease appear gradually, over time. Sometimes it begins with a barely felt tremor in any one hand. The tremors keep on going even though the disease, ever since it was recognized has always been associated with stiffness or slowness of movement.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?

In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your face may display little or no expression at all. While walking, chances are your arms will not swing and your speech will also become slurred or soft. Most symptoms of this disease show themselves when the disease reaches a stage at which it can’t be cured.

Even though it can not be cured, there is some medicine out there that would ease out some of the symptoms and somewhat thaw the progress of the disease. In some cases, doctors might recommend surgery to control some specific area of the brain of the diseased individual that will somewhat alleviate the symptoms.

Parkinson’s disease indications and symptoms might vary from person to person. Early symptoms may be subtle and go unrecognized. Symptoms normally begin on one side of your body and worsen on that side, even if symptoms begin to impact both sides.

Among the indications and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  1. Tremor: A tremor, or shaking, generally starts in a limb, most commonly in your hand or fingers. A pill-rolling tremor occurs when you brush your thumb and fingers back and forth. When your hand is in a resting position, if you have Parkinson’s, your hand will shake.
  2. Slowing of body movements: Parkinson’s disease may impair your mobility over time and ultimately makes routine tasks complex and time-consuming. When you walk, your steps may become shorter if you are affected by the disease. Tasks like getting out of your chair may be tough. You may dangle your feet while you attempt to walk as the muscles that support your leg will become rigid. Muscle stiffness can happen anywhere in your body. It will become very uncomfortable as it will restrict the range of your motion.
  3. Poor posture and balance: As a result of Parkinson’s disease, your posture may become stooped, or you may experience balance issues as the capability of performing automatic motions will be lost. You will see a reduced capacity to do unconscious motions such as blinking, smiling, or swinging your arms while walking.
  4. Evolving of Speech: If you suffer from Parkinson’s disease, you’ll see that you can speak quietly, fast, slur, or pause before speaking. Your speech may be monotonous rather than with the typical inflections.
  5. Evolving of Writing: Writing may become difficult, and your writing may seem little.

How does Parkinson’s disease affect the human body?

Parkinson’s disease causes particular nerve cells which are called neurons in the brain to progressively degrade or die. Many of the symptoms are caused by a loss of neurons that generate dopamine which is nothing more than a type of chemical messenger present in the brain. When dopamine levels fall, aberrant brain activity occurs, resulting in reduced mobility and other Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

What are the causes of Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease has no established etiology, however various variables appear to have a role, including:

  1. Genes: Researchers have arrived at the conclusion that some specific mutations in the gene can be a cause of this disease. However, except in rare circumstances where there are several family members suffering from Parkinson’s disease, they are unusual. Certain gene variants, however, appear to enhance the chance of Parkinson’s disease, but with a relatively low risk of Parkinson’s disease for each of these genetic variations.
  2. Triggers in the environment: Exposure to some poisons or environmental variables may raise the likelihood of one developing Parkinson’s disease later in life, although the risk is modest.

What are the modifications caused by Parkinson’s disease in the brain?

Researchers have also arrived at the conclusion that various changes occur in the brains of persons suffering from Parkinson’s disease, yet it is unknown why these changes occur. Among the modifications are:
Presence of Lewy Bodies: Microscopic signs of Parkinson’s disease include clumps of particular chemicals within brain cells. These are known as Lewy bodies, and scientists believe they offer a vital clue to the etiology of Parkinson’s disease.

Alpha-synuclein is a protein present in Lewy bodies. Although several compounds are discovered within Lewy bodies, experts believe that one of the most crucial proteins that are a cause of Parkinson’s disease is a naturally occurring and widely distributed protein known as alpha-synuclein (also known as a-synuclein).

It is present in a clumped form in all Lewy bodies form in the cells that are unable to degrade. This is a major topic for Parkinson’s disease researchers right now.

How can one avoid getting Parkinson’s disease?

Because the etiology of Parkinson’s disease is unclear, reliable strategies to avoid the condition are also unknown. According to certain studies, regular aerobic exercise may lessen the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Other studies have shown that persons who consume caffeine, which is present in coffee, tea, and cola, are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who do not.

Green tea consumption has also been linked to a lower chance of acquiring Parkinson’s disease. However, it is still unclear if caffeine genuinely protects against Parkinson’s disease or if it is connected to the disease in some other manner. There is currently insufficient data to show that drinking caffeinated beverages can protect against Parkinson’s disease.

How can you detect Parkinson’s Disease early?

In all the cases of identifying Parkinson’s disease, it has been seen that the disease was identified when one was older but there is one hypothesis that might aid the population that is looking to detect Parkinson’s disease in someone quite early in life.

Braak’s hypothesis, named for professor Heiko Braak, MD, who proposed the notion in 2003, proposes that Parkinson’s disease develops on the body’s periphery rather than in the brain. According to Braak’s concept, the early indicators of Parkinson’s disease are detected in the stomach and the olfactory bulb, a brain region involved in the sense of smell.

The deposition of the protein alpha-synuclein (a crucial feature of Parkinson’s disease, also known as Lewy bodies) is thought to start in the gastrointestinal system or the olfactory bulb before spreading to other parts of the brain. After alpha-synuclein aggregates develop, they appear to be capable of expanding and spreading across the brain from nerve cell to nerve cell.

The formation of alpha-synuclein aggregates corresponds with the beginning of symptoms. The presence of alpha-synuclein aggregates in the brainstem (region of the brain near the base of the skull) correlates with the onset of motor symptoms.

The presence of alpha-synuclein aggregates in the cortex (the outer layer of the brain that governs higher mental processes and cognition) is linked to dementia and cognitive failure.

One field of study aimed at assisting in the early identification and treatment of Parkinson’s disease is the hunt for “biomarkers”—proteins or molecules in the blood, urine, or cerebrospinal fluid that consistently help diagnose the disease, especially at the early stage.

Recent research, for instance, discovered alpha-synuclein clumps in the cerebral fluid. These aggregates were discovered in Parkinson’s disease individuals but not in people with other neurologic diseases. Many research studies are being conducted in order to uncover novel biomarkers, particularly those that may be able to predict whether or not someone would get Parkinson’s disease in the future.

What are the curable issues that are usually associated with Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is frequently accompanied by the following additional issues, which may be treatable:

  1. Problems with thinking: You may develop cognitive issues (dementia) and difficulty thinking. These are more common in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease. Medication does not help with such cognitive issues.
  2. Depression and emotional upheaval: People suffering from Parkinson’s disease usually suffer from depression, even in its early stages. Going to therapy may make it simpler to deal with the additional complications of Parkinson’s disease. Other emotional changes, such as dread, worry, or a loss of motivation, may occur. Medication may be prescribed by your doctor to relieve these symptoms.
  3. Problems with swallowing: As your illness worsens, you may have difficulty swallowing. Drooling may occur as a result of saliva accumulation in your mouth as a result of slower swallowing.
  4. Problems chewing and eating specifically in the Late-stage: The muscles in your mouth are affected by Parkinson’s disease, making chewing difficult. Choking and poor nutrition might result as a result of this.
  5. Sleep disorders and sleep issues: People with Parkinson’s disease typically experience sleep issues, such as waking up repeatedly throughout the night, getting up early, or falling asleep during the day. Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, which includes acting out your dreams, can also occur. Medications may assist with your sleep issues.
  6. Bladder issues: Parkinson’s disease can produce bladder difficulties, such as inability to regulate pee or trouble urinating.
  7. Constipation: Constipation is common in persons with Parkinson’s disease, owing to a sluggish digestive tract.

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