by Bangkok Hospital Medical Centre
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that usually affects people over the age of 60. The three primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremor, rigid muscles and slowness of movement. In the past, this disease could not be cured. The patients suffered from progressive severe symptoms that finally limited the size of the patient’s movements, eventually resulting in death due to complications. Today, with a more advanced medical technology, there is a variety of medications that provide dramatic relief from the symptoms.
- Loss of some dopamine-producing neurons due to brain aging. This is the major cause of Parkinson’s disease in most patients and is found in people with the age of over 65.
- Drug-induced causes. Antipsychotic drugs used in the treatment of severe paranoia stop the action of dopamine on neurons. Today, new kinds of such medications are safer than those in the past and do not cause Parkinson’s syndrome.
- High blood pressure medications. These drugs cause the brain to reduce dopamine production that leads to Parkinson’s disease. Today, most of high blood pressure drugs no longer cause Parkinson’s syndrome.
- Blood vessel disorders in the brain. These cause the brain to stop or reduce the production of dopamine.
- Toxins. Toxins that may be linked to Parkinson’s include manganese, carbon monoxide and some other pesticides.
- Lack of oxygen in the brain due to drowning or the respiratory system being clogged up by food, phlegm or mucus. Lack of oxygen in the brain can cause severe and permanent brain damage which may lead to Parkinson’s.
- Head trauma. Injury to the head increases the risk of Parkinson’s.
- Encephalitis. Encephalitis is a rare, severe flu-like infection that causes inflammation in the brain.
- Genetic disorders such as Wilson’s disease. Wilson’s disease causes the body to retain copper which builds up in the liver and injures liver tissue. The copper buildup can cause severe liver failure, brain damage and Parkinson’s.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary depending on the age of patients, disease duration and complications. Other symptoms besides the three primary ones aforementioned include:
- Tremor. This symptom is more noticeable when the patient’s hand or finger is still rather than in movement. It often starts with a slight shaking in the hands, limbs, head or body. This sign may first occur on one side of the body and later develop on both sides.
- Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness often occurs in the patient’s limbs and body even when the patient stays still. Sometimes the stiffness can be so severe that it limits the size of the patient’s movements and causes pain.
- Slowed motion. At the early stage, patients notice that their size of movement is limited. In walking, patients take very short steps, and trots along, hurrying one foot after the other. They also have an unsteady gait a stooped posture and usually require walking support.
- Loss of automatic movements. In Parkinson’s disease, facial expressions and smiling tend to be diminished. Some people may no longer gesture or seem animated when they speak. Some patients have trouble seeing and rolling their eyes.
- Impaired speech. Many people with Parkinson’s disease have some trouble speaking, and their voices often become monotonous and very soft.
- Loss of writing ability. Patients find it difficult to write, and the texts written are usually very small and difficult to read.
- In some cases, the patient’s mouth is kept open with the saliva dropping from the mouth.
- Physical therapy