Information on Parkinson's Disease

Information on Parkinson's Disease - Parkinson's disease, which was named for a British doctor by the name of James Parkinson in 1817, takes place when nerve cells (or neurons) in a part of the brain known as the substantia nigra (or black substance) are destroyed or impaired. The substantia nigra produces a chemical known as dopamine.

Dopamine is the chemical that sends messages to muscles in the body to tell them when and how to move. A lack of dopamine in the brain causes disorientation with nerve cells thus prompting movements in the body that are uncontrollable.

Parkinson's disease afflicts both men and women and it occurs in every race of people in all areas of the world. Studies have shown that the Caucasian population appears more susceptible to developing the condition than African-Americans or Asians but scientists cannot pinpoint accurately why this might be the case.

It is not known for sure what causes Parkinson's disease, in the majority of cases it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Parkinson's is a progressive disease that greatly affects a person's ability to move and at present, has no known cure. Each year in the United States alone, approximately 50,000 new cases are diagnosed.

Parkinson's disease is thought of as a condition of the late middle aged, as the average age of onset is somewhere between the ages of 55 and 60. However many cases of "early-onset" have been identified in individuals under the age of 40 (an average of 5-10 percent) in the past couple of years. One of the most popular individuals with Parkinson's disease is Michael J. Fox, a well known actor.

The onset of Parkinson's disease does not hasten an individual's death but it does affect longevity. It is not a contagious disease by any means and is not found to run in family in the way that certain types of cancers and heart disease do.

After the age of 75 most of us are safe as the risk of developing Parkinson's disease drops to almost zero. Although as previously mentioned, Parkinsons does not run in families, there is a higher risk of developing it if a person had a parent or sibling who developed the condition before reaching the age of 50. Statistics points to those of European ancestry appear to be at higher risk, although science cannot provide an explanation.

Some interesting information on Parkinson's disease is there is not one particular test that can diagnose Parkinson's disease, therefore a doctor must put his/her patient through a battery of tests to determine or rule out Parkinsons.

A brain-imaging scan is one of the tests that are often conducted. Parkinson's disease is not always diagnosed as such from the onset and is sometimes believed to be caused by overtiredness, stress or simply aging. Sometimes as well, doctors make an incorrect diagnosis of arthritis because of the problems related to movement of joints.

Some common symptoms of Parkinson's disease are occasional and rhythmic tremors in the extremities (arms, legs, feet, hands and fingers), the jaw and/or face; slowness in regards to movement (also known as bradykinesia); rigidity (or akinesia) that develops in the neck, arms, torso or legs; difficulty with speech; problems with balancing one's body and coordinating movements and being extremely fatigued, cranky or generally just feeling discouraged with one's life. For additional information on Parkinson's disease checkout this link: Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

Common Misconceptions about Information on Parkinson's Disease

Common Misconceptions about Information on Parkinson's Disease

There are seven common misconceptions that the general public often subscribes to in relation to Parkinson's disease. This information on Parkinson's disease will go a long way in creating awareness about this incurable, neurological disorder and allow those with it to feel more comfortable in society.

Misconceptions Factual Information on Parkinson's Disease
Only elderly people get Parkinson's disease. This is not so. Although this disease does tend to strike those in their fifties or early sixties (late middle age) more often, it does occur in younger people as well. More cases of "early-onset" Parkinsons disease have been found in people under the age of 40, an average of 5-10 percent in recent years. Younger patients don't tend to suffer from balance or walking issues as much or have their thinking processes impaired like older patients do but they often experience vibrations and more involuntary movements.
The public often unfairly perceives Parkinson's patients as being stupid, rude or miserable. The reasons cited is that as the disease progresses, sufferers develop more and more problems in their ability to communicate with others. Problems with speech, swallowing, drooling, and jerky facial and body movements cause patients to be unfairly labeled. Some people unaware of a person's condition wrongly believe that person to be inebriated when they talk with slurred speech.
All Parkinson's patients suffer tremors. Tremors are the most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease and are found in approximately 70 percent of sufferers although 15-25 percent do not experience any form of tremors at all.
Parkinson's disease can be prevented. Researchers have not identified the exact cause of the disease and therefore without this information, preventing it is impossible. Most however, do believe that Parkinson's disease is caused by a combination of a genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
Lifestyle modifications can do nothing in improving symptoms of the disease. This is not the case. Regular exercise, in particular muscle strengthening exercises and walking, as well as dietary changes cannot slow the progression of the disease but can cut down on the severity of symptoms. Additional information on Parkinson's disease and treatments can be found here: Parkinson's Treatments.
People with Parkinson's disease cannot live independent and productive lives. This is not so. The progression of the disease is not the same for everyone. Some individuals suffer milder forms of Parkinson's than do others and not everyone experiences all of the same symptoms or the same severity of symptoms. With medication, regular exercise and dietary considerations most Parkinson's sufferers can live on their own and be as productive in their daily lives as anyone else. For additional information on Parkinson's disease and medical treatments click here: Parkinson's Disease Medications.
Parkinson's disease will cause death. Parkinson's has not been proven to be fatal although patients with it do have special health concerns. The disease may wreak havoc with the respiratory system, which could lead to pneumonia. A form of pneumonia known as aspiration pneumonia is of particular concern as many sufferers develop problems with swallowing which can cause aspiration of food. As well a lack of movement can cause a person to be more prone to developing a variety of infections. Many Parkinson's patients don't develop any of the above problems and manage to live anywhere from 20-30 years or more with the disease.

Possible Links Between Environmental Toxins and Parkinsons

As you research information on Parkinson's disease, it is not known whether Parkinson's disease is caused by a genetic mutation, environmental factors or a combination of the two. However links have been found between environmental toxins and the incurable, progressive neurological disease that greatly affects a person's ability to move, balance and control their muscles.

When symptoms of Parkinson's disease can be traced back to a particular source this is referred to as "parkinsonism." For some individuals the symptoms of this disease first begin to show themselves after prolonged exposure to chemicals that are either agricultural or industrial in nature.

As well sometimes symptoms take shape after an incidence of carbon monoxide poisoning; constant blows to the head (such as to be found in the sport of boxing) and infections caused by a multitude of viruses. Parkinsonism can also relate to the use of prescription drugs used to treat depression, epilepsy, schizophrenia and a host of other conditions.

Parkinson's disease tends to crop up more in rural areas and it is believed that environmental factors are to blame in part for that being the case. Many of these environmental factors come in the form of metals or compounds that are deemed toxic. Three pesticide products that have been found to be strongly connected to the incidence of Parkinson's disease include rotenone, paraquat and maneb.

Rotenone is a plant-based insecticide that is commonly used by farmers. This dangerous pesticide has been shown to lead to disastrous results in the brain.

First of all it causes inflammation which in turn leads to the dying off of dopaminergic neurons (dopamine-producing) which are the roadways of communication, and secondly, direct toxicity is administered to the neurons and causes damage.

Paraquat is an insecticide (or herbicide) that is similar in nature to MPTP, which elicited Parkinson-related symptoms in some people who had tried to produce the drug heroine but ended up making MPTP quite unintentionally.

Today MPTP is used as a measure of toxicity levels in other potentially harmful chemicals. Paraquat is sprayed on crops such as corn and soybeans (which are most often found to be growing in fields in the Midwestern United States), cotton, fruit and a variety of other products.

Maneb, a diothiocarbamate fungicide, contains a heavy metal known as manganese. This metal has been found to be connected to symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Maneb is often sprayed on corn, lettuce, potatoes and tomatoes. Both maneb and paraquat are applied to corn on a regular basis so that means that this crop has double the chemicals.

An interesting result while researching information on Parkinson's disease shows experiments done with mice exposed to either paraquat or maneb alone, little if any damage to the brain was noted. But when exposed to the combination of paraquat and maneb almost all of the symptoms of the onset of Parkinson's disease in humans were noted.

Although the mice used in the experiment appeared to be as healthy as they were before being exposed to the environmental toxins in reality the dopamine neurons were already becoming destroyed and dying off.

Many farmers in the same geographical locations use combinations of these chemical compounds to rid their fields of weeds, insects and many different forms of funguses. However this spells bad news for the people who are exposed to the toxic substances.

Ten Terms Every Parkinson's Patient Should Be Familiar With

When looking for information on Parkinson's disease, all those suffering from Parkinsons, need to become familiar with a number of terms relating to their disease. Some terms relate to symptoms those suffering may or may not experience as the disease progresses, while others have to do with forms of treatment. The more a patient learns about this disease and the information on Parkinson's disease, the better equipped he or she is to cope with what is to come.

Term Definition/Meaning
Bradykinesia Bradykinesia is a gradual slowness of movement. This is a very common symptom of Parkinson's disease. Often the simplest of daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing and brushing one's teeth becomes more difficult to execute once bradykinesia sets in. This often goes hand in hand with akinesia (a total lack of movement) that develops in some patients. Some individuals experience bradykinesia in doing some things and akinesia in regard to others.
Dopamine Agonist These are drugs that mimic the actions of the chemical dopamine in the brain of Parkinson's sufferers. A dopamine agonist provides an extra dose of dopamine to help improve conditions. The three most commonly prescribed dopamine agonists are Mirapex, Permax and Requip. For additional information on Parkinson's disease and related drugs click this link: Parkinson's Disease Drugs.
Rigidity of muscles. Rigidity of muscles is another very common manifestation of Parkinson's disease. Stiffness and/or tightness can occur in many different parts of the body but when it is seen in the shoulders or lower back it is referred to as cogwheel rigidity. Cogwheel rigidity causes a jerky sensation to take place in muscles when the arms and/or legs are in rapid motion.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure for Parkinson's that has been gaining in popularity over the past few years and is proving to be very effective. DBS is a risky surgical procedure that involves permanent electrodes being implanted in the areas of the brain where the dopamine neurons have died. Repeated pulses of electricity are administered in order to bring symptoms under control. For additional information on Parkinson's disease and related treatments click this link: Parkinson's Treatments.
Parkinsonism Parkinsonism is the term used to describe the set of symptoms attributed to Parkinson's patients - bradykinesia, rigidity, stooped posture, a shuffling gait (walking) and tremors. Some people use the term parkinsonism to describe the symptoms of Parkinson's that can be traced back to a specific source, such as prolonged exposure to pesticides.
Dysarthia Dysarthia is verbal problems such as a weak, slow and/or less than coherent speech pattern that occur because of damaged muscles. Speech difficulties plague a great deal of Parkinson's sufferers.
The On-Off Effect The on-off effect occurs in relation to Parkinson's patients who are undergoing levodopa treatment. In this case fluctuations take place to the patient's level of mobility and often change with little or no warning. In other words, the patient could go from having a good (or on) response to a poor (or off) response.
Range of Motion Range of motion refers to the extent that a joint will allow itself to go from being completely straightened to a bent position.
Tremors Tremors are the most commonly reported symptom of Parkinson's disease. A tremor is a trembling or sense of shakiness of a limb that is most obvious when that part is not in motion. It is most often noted in hands. Tremors are broken down into three categories- action, postural and resting.
Wearing-off effect The wearing-off effect, like the on-off effect, is related to levodopa treatment. The wearing-off effect takes place when a patient has been receiving levodopa on a long-term basis but it has become less effective with the passage of time.

As you continue to research information on Parkinson's disease these links will be helpful:

Additional information on Parkinson's disease Links:

Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

Information on Parkinson's Treatments

Information on Parkinson's Disease Drugs

Information on Parkinson's Disease Medications

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