Parkinson’s disease is defined as a degenerative neurological disease. It is a disorder that affects the nervous system, and it is characterized by body movement problems. Particular groups of brain cells known as neurons are gradually and progressively damaged, then selectively degenerate. This leads to typical indicators of Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms include involuntarily trembling. Australians with this kind of disorder find their muscles to be rigid as well as stiff.
In addition, these people lose their ability to initiate rapid and spontaneous movements. Noticeably, these people walk in a distinguishable manner, accompanied by a characteristic gait in which the body is flexed. Not to mention that they may present difficulty in maintaining their body balance. The signs mentioned do not manifest themselves all at once. Well, a patient’s walking may slow down, but may not worsen for several years. On the other hand, maintaining balance may not be a problem not until the progressive stages of the disease.
Statistically, there are approximately eighty thousand Australians who manage to live with Parkinson’s disease. A probable diagnosis is possible at any age with the most common age of diagnosis being between fifty and sixty years. Ideally, what initiates Parkinson’s disease is still unknown. However, what is known is that neurons in a specific portion of the brain are destroyed and/or lost. The damage and/or loss of neurons lead to the reduction of dopamine. In this context, dopamine is a chemical responsible for coordinating movement.
Stages and/or Phases of Parkinson’s disease
The basic phases of Parkinson’s illness are based on disease progression, and they are associated with the following symptoms: stiffness in limbs, balancing difficulties, slowed movement, and uncontrollable trembling along with tremors.
Stage I: Defines the mildest state of the disease. This stage is characterized by unusual symptoms, which are not entirely severe to hinder day to day activities. The major difficulties, including tremors, manifest themselves on one side of the body. Symptoms may be minimized through prescribed medication.
Stage II: Describes a moderate state of the disease, where the symptoms are more noticeable than the ones of stage one. This stage is clearly defined by the following: trembling, tremors, and stiffness. Despite the existence of stiffness, this particular stage does not lead to imbalance. Symptoms at this stage manifest themselves on both sides of the body, however, there are high chances of speech difficulties.
Stage III: This refers to the mid-stage of the disease, not to mention that it is the defining moment in the disease progression. Advanced symptoms are decreased reflexes and loss of balance.
Stage IV: At this stage, the patient may need a walker and/or any other kind of walking assisting device. The stage is highly characterized by a significant decrease in movement along with reaction times. Almost all possible symptoms are visible at this stage.
Stage V: This is the progressive platform of the disease, and the symptoms are extremely dangerous. At this stage Australian patients need more than just a walking assisting device.
Living with Parkinson’s disorder
In the event that you suspect to have Parkinson’s disease in Australia; then, you are advised to find out by seeking a specialist’s assistance. Once suspicions are confirmed, one is able to live at ease since he or she has a clue on what is going on. As a native of Australia, one is exposed to a good number of Parkinson’s disease support groups. This way, one is able determine all the possible support he or she can expect. All in all, for one to accept as well as adjust to living with Parkinson’s disease, he or she must come to terms with the condition.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease differ from one individual to the other, which leads to different treatment responses. Parkinson’s symptoms are divided into three major categories that include: motor symptoms that affect physical movement, neuropsychiatric symptoms that affect the patient’s mood, behaviour and thinking capability and lastly the autonomic nervous system symptoms. Motor symptoms include tremors, which is defined as uncontrollable shaking. These tremors may begin in the limbs, that is one hand or arm and later spreads to the leg. This symptom can be noticed when the patient is at rest or when nervous, exhausted and stressed.
Bradykinesia is also a motor symptom that is defined as slowness of movement. This affects the legs making the patient walk in small steps, and in severe cases, a patient may become immobile. It can also lead to loss of normal facial expressions, less eye blinking and reduced motor coordination. Rigidity also occurs. The arm as well as leg muscles become stiff and may also experience tension. This leads to lack of muscle relaxation and tightness even at rest. This symptom is experienced in two forms: the lead pipe rigidity which affects the entire joint movement and the cog-wheel rigidity which affects various parts.
Other motor symptoms include: postural instability and dystonia. The other major symptom is the neuropsychiatric symptom that involves depression, sleep disturbances, mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Depression arises due to reduced dopamine which affects mood. Insomnia may arise due to brain changes, irregular movements while sleeping and side effects from the medications used during treatment.
Anxiety arises when the patient does not respond to levodopa treatment. Mild cognitive impairment, which is the disruption of thinking, may lead to dementia. Dementia is characterised by memory problems, recognition difficulties, poor concentration, visual hallucination and delusions. The last major symptom is the autonomic dysfunction symptom that affects the nervous system which controls body functions. This causes urination problems, less libido in women, erectile dysfunction, excessive sweating and excessive drooling.
Causes of Parkinson’s disease
Causes of this condition are unknown. Hence, the disease is termed as idiopathic. Neverthless, one of the related causes involved in its development include age, that is elderly people are prone to obtain the disorder. Parkinson’s disease is termed as one of the leading nervous system disorders in people who are above fifty years. According to research in Australia, genetic factors as well as environmental factors cause Parkinson’s disease. Various genetic factors lead to the development of the condition during the disease’s early stages. Young individuals can also obtain the disease due to their genes.
Environmental factors may also trigger the disease in patients who are genetically predisposed. In a few instances, trauma to the brain has clearly caused Parkinson disease. In leading medical cases in Australia, head trauma has been severe enough to cause loss of consciousness, where brain scan images indicate localised damage in portions of the human brain that are known to be central to Parkinson’s disease. Convincing cases of post-traumatic Parkinson’s disease are quite rare. Retrospective studies suggest that there is some increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease among Australians who have had mild head trauma.
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