Parkinson’s Disease

Overview

Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter responsible for normal bodily function. Parkinson’s is a disease where you are dopamine deficient. It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the cells that produce dopamine, ultimately reducing the levels of the neurotransmitter in the body. With reduced dopamine your body is unable to generate the nerve signals between the muscles and brain effectively. This then causes individuals with Parkinson’s to have less control over their bodies movement. These symptoms slowly develop over time and can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages.

Signs and Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease has symptoms including body tremors, or shaking, muscle rigidity, as well as impaired balance, slowness, and stiffness. Parkinson’s is manageable with a proper treatment plan.

Some symptoms may be tougher to notice, and patients may disregard milder symptoms. Some additional symptoms include reduce expression in the individuals face, slurred speech, or minimal arm movement when walking/ running. Another common symptom of parkinsons  is “pill-rolling”, where a patient will rub their thumb and forefinger together involuntarily. People may also experience slowed body movements or shorter steps when walking/ feet dragging.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Parkinson’s has been linked to a genetic variation that contributes to the disease, though it is not always hereditary. I physician may request a medical history to determine your risk. One known precursor of Parkinson’s is the presence of Lewy bodies, which is a protein build up within the brain. Men are more predisposed to the disease as compared to women.

If you think you may have Parkinson’s speak with your health care professional and discuss what treatment options are best for you. There are four main classifications of drugs used to treat Parkison’s, Carbidopa-Levodopa, Dopamine Agonists, MOA B Inhibitors, and Catechol O-Methyltransferase COMT Inhibitors. These all help increase dopamine levels from within the brain. Speak with your physician to find which treatment is best for you. In some cases surgery may be recommended to help with severe symptoms. Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure prescribed to treat Parkinson’s. It uses implanted electrodes in the brain to send electrical impulses and reduce Parkinson’s symptoms. This is typically used for patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. Controlling Parkinson’s symptoms are important to improve quality of life for these individuals.