Early signs of Parkinson’s disease and life expectancy

What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects the motor movements of the body. People diagnosed with this disease experience stiffness and poor mental ability. It develops gradually in the body and remains for years until death.

Causes of Parkinson’s disease
Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter present in the brain. When this neurotransmitter isn’t produced, it affects the motor functioning of the body. The neurotransmitter present in the neuron stays in a particular area called the substantia nigra of the brain. Dopamine sends messages between the substantia nigra and other parts of the brain to control the motor functioning of the body and is responsible for smooth muscle movements. When 80% of the dopamine cells are damaged, it leads to Parkinson’s disease, also known as neurodegeneration.

Sometimes this disease is considered to be genetic but usually, it doesn’t run in the family.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Symptoms progress slowly in one’s body. It usually starts from one side of the body and gradually spreads throughout. The progress also depends from person to person. Exposure to certain chemicals in the environment is also considered to be a factor responsible for Parkinson’s disease.

Early signs of Parkinson’s disease
Some of the early signs and symptoms include:

  • Twitching/ shaking of hands, legs or arms
  • Trouble walking
  • Regular constipation
  • Stooping/hunching back
  • Masked face
  • Dizziness
  • Stiffness of legs, arms, and trunk
  • Slow motor activity
  • Improper balance and coordination
  • Loss of smell
  • Hyposmia
  • Sleeping disorders

Over the years, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease worsen, and people diagnosed with this develop a low/blurred voice and face difficulty in talking, walking, and performing daily chores. There are cases where they also develop chewing or swallowing problems and in the worse scenario, it leads to depression.

Treatment for Parkinson’s disease
There are no lab tests for Parkinson’s disease. Doctors use the medical history and neurological examinations to diagnose it.

Although, there is no complete curable treatment for Parkinson’s disease, there are medications which will slow down or control the symptoms. In some cases, doctors may also recommend surgery to regulate certain regions of the brain to control the disease.

Parkinson’s disease life expectancy
Researchers have shown that men are more likely to be affected by Parkinson’s than women. Parkinson’s usually begins at the age of 60 and sometimes prior to it. Parkinson’s disease life expectancy is same as people who don’t have the disease.

Surgery of some part of the brain, like Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), can help in certain cases. In this type of surgery, electrodes are implanted surgically in the brain, which sends electrical pulses to stimulate the parts of the brain that control movement.