What is Parkinson’s Disease?

What Seniors Today Should Understand About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a major hazard to senior health because it is not curable, is degenerative and affects the entire nervous system. A senior who develops this disease could quickly start to have problems leading a normal life. Here is what seniors should understand about Parkinson’s disease.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

How Parkinson’s Disease Affects the Body

Parkinson’s disease affects the body by slowly reducing the amount of an important neurotransmitter called dopamine that is generated in the brain. The result of low dopamine levels is a reduced ability to control your muscles. This disease is degenerative because symptoms get worse over time. Controlling the nervous system can become impossible in some cases. It can take years for Parkinson’s disease to manifest and show symptoms.

Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease has several symptoms all due to the compromised nervous system. The most prevalent is shaking usually in the hands and arms that cannot be stopped. Alternately, muscles could become incredible rigid to the point of creating pain. Parkinson’s disease can inhibit your ability to speak normally. Other common signs of the disease include loss of balance and slowed movements. Your body might even stop doing autonomous things such as blinking or breathing.

Potential Causes

The exact reason Parkinson’s disease develops in some people and not in others is unknown. The two causes researchers believe are most prominent are genetics and environmental factors. There do appear to be a number of genes that could be linked with Parkinson’s disease. The presence of any single one of these genes increases the risk of getting the disease only slightly. A second possible cause is toxins in the environment. Significant exposure to toxins could lead to Parkinson’s disease in some cases.

Risk Factors

A big risk factor for seniors is age. The majority of people who get Parkinson’s disease are around age 60 or older. A second risk factor is family history. If you have one or more people with Parkinson’s disease in your family, then you are at a higher right of getting the disease. Men have a higher risk than women do with Parkinson’s disease. A final risk is long-term exposure to toxins such as pesticides and herbicides.

Treatments

The most common and effective treatments for anyone with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease involve medications. Many medications either create more dopamine in the brain or simulate the effects of dopamine. A few do other things such as preventing existing dopamine from being broken down or stopping the tremors. A last resort to is a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation. This surgery implants electrodes in the brain attached to a small external device. Small electrical impulses help to regulate the brain and reduce Parkinson’s disease symptoms.