Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement. The disease progresses at a different rate for each person. In the early stages, symptoms tend to be mild. However, when a patient reaches more advanced stages, the disease can affect daily activities.

Patients with Parkinson's disease may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tremor
  • Slowed movement
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Impaired balance or difficulty walking
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fatigue or sleep disturbances
  • Constipation
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Soft or slowed speech
  • Loss of interest in daily activities

There is no specific test to diagnose Parkinson's. Instead, diagnosis is based on the patient's symptoms.

Causes and triggers

The exact cause of Parkinson's is unknown. We do know, however, that it affects the brain's ability to produce dopamine, a molecule that regulates movement.

Parkinson's disease usually develops in people 50 years of age and over, but can also occur at a younger age.

Treatment

While there is no cure for Parkinson's, there are medications that can help manage its various symptoms. Also, regular physical activity can help strengthen muscles and joints, as well as improve overall wellness.

Certain treatments are also available to help reduce symptoms:

  • Physiotherapy, to maintain or improve mobility, flexibility and balance
  • Occupational therapy, to help with daily activities
  • Speech therapy, to strengthen the voice

To prevent falls and injuries, it is recommended that potential tripping hazards throughout the house (rugs, electrical cords, etc.) be eliminated or moved out of the way.

When should I see a medical professional?

  • If you have symptoms suggestive of Parkinson's disease.
  • If your medication is causing side effects that are having an impact on your quality of life.

For more information:

Parkinson Canada

www.parkinson.ca

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