The first signs of Parkinson’s disease are problems with movement. Coordinated and smooth movements of the muscles of human body are possible due to dopamine, a substance released in the brain. This substance called dopamine is produced in the ‘substantia nigra’, a part of the human brain. When a person suffers from Parkinson’s, the cells of this portion of the brain begin to die and whenever this happens, the levels of dopamine start falling. As it drops by 60-80%, the symptoms of the disease begin to appear.
Unfortunately, medical professionals and scientists have still found no cure for Parkinson’s disease that worsens and gets chronic over time. In the United States, there are more than 50,000 new cases of this disease reported every year but there might be several more that go undiagnosed.
Parkinson’s Disease – Know the symptoms
Before even motor problems arise, there are few early symptoms of this disease that show. Here are the earliest signs of Parkinson’s.
- Reduced ability to smell things
- Changes in voice
- Cramped, small handwriting
- Stooped posture
The major 4 motor problems that are seen among such patients are:
- Extremely slow movements
- Tremor (body shakes even while at rest)
- Tendency to fall and problem in balancing
- Stiffness of legs, arms and trunk
Few other secondary symptoms may include:
- Blank expression of the face
- Low volume or muffled speech
- Getting stuck while walking
- Tendency to fall off backward
- Reduced swallowing and blinking
- Fear of falling backward
- Reduced swinging of arms while walking
What are the main causes of Parkinson’s disease?
It is still unknown what exactly causes Parkinson’s disease but it is assumed that there might be both environmental and genetic components. Moreover, there are scientists who are of the opinion that viruses even trigger this disease. Low levels of norepinephrine, a substance that can regulate levels of dopamine are often linked to be one of the causes of this disease.
While there is no such evidence on the actual causes of this disease, there have been several researches that recognized groups of people who are more vulnerable to this condition:
- Race: Whites are more susceptible to get Parkinson’s than Asians or African Americans
- Sex: Men are one and half times more vulnerable to getting Parkinson’s than women
- Family history: People who have family members already suffering from Parkinson’s may develop this disease
- Age: People between the age of 50 and 60 may get Parkinson’s and in 5-10% cases, the symptoms may start showing off early at the age of 40
- Head injury: People who have got head injuries are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease
- Toxins: Exposure to few toxins might raise the risk of Parkinson’s
So, if you have a senior family member and you notice any of the above listed symptoms, make sure you consult a physician as soon as possible. Delay in treatment might aggravate the symptoms.