Spare a Thought for Parkinsons' Disease

Published: 11th April 2016 04:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2016 04:24 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system (CNS) and leads to chronic and progressive movement disorder.

The early signs of the disease are shaking, rigidity and slowness of the movement, it could later lead to mental illness, problems in thinking, dementia and depression.  It affects middle-aged and elderly persons mostly above the age of 50 years.

In Parkinson’s disease, neurons which are vital nerve cells in the brain, malfunction and die. This happens more so in the area of the brain called the ‘substantia nigra’ . Neurons produce a chemical ‘dopamine’ that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. Without dopamine, the patient is unable to control movement normally.

The cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, although some atypical cases have a genetic origin. While there is no cure at present, there are treatment options that help control the progress of the disease and mitigate the symptoms. Diet and some forms of rehabilitation have shown some effectiveness at improving symptoms.

“Though the prevalence at 70 per 100,000 persons is lower than the global average of 100 per 100,000, given the population of India, there are a large number of patients with Parkinson’s disease in India,“ says Dr Boby Varkey, consultant of neurology at Aster Medicity.

Ten Early Warning Signs of Parkinson's Disease

Why an early diagnosis? How does it help? An early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease helps when patients face difficulties with their daily activities. In such cases, proper diagnosis and resultant treatment can help improve their functional abilities. The treatment can have an ‘awakening’ effect in these patients and can dramatically improve their quality of life, seeming almost magical! Usually, patients come late because they don’t recognize the symptoms. This leads to progression of the disorder to advanced stages. So here are ten signs that the problems in movement you are facing is because of Parkinson’s Disease.

While any one of the symptoms in isolation is not a cause for worry, it’s advisable to consult a doctor in case of a combination of more than one symptom.

It must be emphasized that there can be other causes for the above symptoms. But when more than one of the symptoms occurs together, it can be an indicator of Parkinson’s disease and time to visit the doctor to clear any doubt!

1. Shaking, twitching or tremors in the extremities

It can be a slight shaking or tremor in the fingers, hand, chin or lips. It can be the leg twitching and shaking while sitting down. Shaking, twitching or tremors in the extremities is an early sign of Parkinson’s disease.

2. Small Handwriting

Have you noticed that your signature has changed? That your handwriting has become smaller or that the words are crowded together when you write? A sudden change in handwriting is often a sign of Parkinson’s disease.

3. Loss of smell

Has there been a change in your capability to smell? Can you not smell food properly, even when you don’t have a cold or blocked nose. It could be a sign of Parkinson’s.

4. Movements during sleep

While this may seem to be a common complaint, this refers to thrashing around in the bed or kicking or punching while deep asleep. Sudden movements during sleep can be a sign of Parkinson’s.

5. Trouble while walking

Stiffness in the extremities with difficulty in moving body and limbs can be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. Arms not swinging while walking, pain in the shoulders or hips can be an early sign.

6. Constipation

Constipation developing suddenly and causing difficulty in daily bowel movements can be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease.

7. Speech levels

Change in the voice making you speak softly when you think you are speaking in a normal tone can be an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease.

8. Face like a mask

Do people think you have a serious look on your face even when you are feeling normal and happy? Blinking less with a blank stare can also be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.

9. Fainting or feeling dizzy

Feeling giddy on standing up from a chair can be a sign of low BP and can indicate Parkinsonism.

10. Change in posture

Change in posture while standing, like stooping or leaning could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Boby Varkey Maramattom, Consultant,Neurology & Interventional Neurology, Aster Medcity

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