Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that affects movement. It gets worse over time and can affect other brain functions, too, such as learning and memory.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
At first, Parkinson’s disease often causes only mild symptoms. As it gets worse, the symptoms can affect a person’s ability to work or do everyday activities. When it becomes even more severe, people with the disease sometimes need help taking care of themselves.
Parkinson’s disease can make people:
- Shake (doctors call this “tremor”)
- Move slowly
- Become stiff or rigid
- Lose their balance or have a hard time walking
Parkinson’s disease can also make some people:
- Lose the ability to think clearly
- At times, lose touch with reality or see things that aren’t there (these are called “hallucinations”)
- Feel depressed, anxious, or less interested in everyday life
- Have problems with sleep, such as insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep) and daytime sleepiness
- Feel tired
- Lose the ability to smell
The disease can even cause problems such as constipation, sweating, trouble urinating, trouble swallowing, and sexual problems. Some people with Parkinson’s disease develop “orthostatic hypotension.” This is the medical term for a sudden drop in blood pressure that happens when a person stands up. This drop in blood pressure can make the person feel dizzy or lightheaded, or even pass out.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease
Dr. Herekar provides extensive testing to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. He begins by reviewing your medical history, overall health, lifestyle, and symptoms. While there’s no single test to identify Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Herekar may order blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, or Dopamine Transporter (DAT) Scan. He may also prescribe medication like carbidopa-levodopa to see if it relieves your symptoms.
There are several medicines that can improve the symptoms of Parkinson disease. Researchers are also studying drugs that might help keep Parkinson disease from getting worse. But for now, no treatment can cure the disease.
The medicines used to treat Parkinson disease symptoms can sometimes cause serious side effects. For this reason, people often start taking them only after their symptoms start to really bother them.
If you are thinking about treatment, ask your doctor or nurse to help you understand the risks and benefits of the medicines you might take.
Here are some questions to ask your doctor that might help you decide what to do about treatment:
- Which medicines would you suggest I take?
- What are their side effects?
- How much are my symptoms likely to improve with each medicine?
- What happens if I do not take the medicine?
People with Parkinson’s disease, who do not improve with other treatments, are suggested a treatment called “Deep Brain Stimulation” (also called “DBS”). People who get DBS must first have surgery to place wires into a part of the brain that helps control muscle movement. The wires are attached to a device that gets implanted under the skin, usually near the collarbone. It sends electrical signals to the brain to reduce abnormal movement.
Aamr Arif Herekar MD Neurology, in El Paso, Texas, offers expert diagnosis and treatments to manage Parkinson’s disease. If you’re concerned about your neurological health, call the office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Herekar online today.
FAQs regarding Parkinson’s Disease
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease that causes degeneration in your dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra region of your brain. Decreased dopamine production causes symptoms related to your movements. The condition also damages the nerves that produce norepinephrine – the neurotransmitter responsible for many automatic functions of your body like your blood pressure.
Parkinson’s disease progresses gradually, but with treatment, you can lead a long and fulfilling life. The precise cause of Parkinson’s disease isn’t known, but medical researchers have found that people with the condition have unusual clumps of proteins called Lewy bodies in their brains.
What are the warning signs of Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease causes many symptoms that become progressively more disruptive over time. Some of the early warning signs of the disease include:
- Tremors in your fingers, hands, or foot
- Changes in your handwriting
- Limb stiffness or slow movement
- Voice changes
- Stooped posture
- Involuntary movements while sleeping
By the time you start to experience symptoms, your dopamine and norepinephrine producing brain cells are already damaged. However, the earlier you get a diagnosis and start treatment, the better your chances are of slowing the progression of your disease and extending your quality of life.
Is there a test for Parkinson’s disease?
No, there is no test. But doctors can usually tell if a person has Parkinson’s disease based on his or her symptoms. Sometimes doctors use tests to make sure that the symptoms are not caused by something else.
Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better?
You can do the following:
- Exercise or do physical therapy, so that your body is less affected by stiffness and other symptoms.
- Join social support groups, where you can talk to other people who understand your situation.
- Make your home safer, so that you are less likely to fall. For example, get rid of loose rugs and clutter, and make sure all electrical cords are neatly tucked away.
- If you drive, have yourself tested to make sure it is safe for you to keep driving.
Learn about Parkinson’s disease and its treatment. That way you can be actively involved in your care.
How is Parkinson’s disease treated?
There’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease yet, but Dr. Herekar does offer customized treatment to slow the progression of your condition, reduce your symptoms, and restore your quality of life. For example, medication like Carbidopa-Levodopa, Dopamine Agonists, and Amantadine can reduce your symptoms and slow the progression of your disease.
Depending on the severity of your disease and whether or not medical treatment relieves your symptoms, Dr. Herekar might suggest deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS involves the surgical implantation of a small electrode in your brain, which can reduce your symptoms.
Call Aamr Arif Herekar MD Neurology to make an appointment today for expert diagnosis and treatment for Parkinson’s disease.