April was Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

So let’s be aware…

According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, Parkinson’s Disease is a slowly progressive, degenerative neurological disease. The disease presents itself in a sufferers body with stiffness and slow reaction times while it manifests the effects as small tremors, falling and sometimes memory challenges. Symptoms occur when the production of dopamine is compromised. “Dopamine helps humans to have smooth coordinated muscle movements.” When too many of these cells are damaged, the symptoms of the disease show up. Although there is currently no way to definitively diagnose Parkinson’s, the progressing symptoms eventually make it apparent. (Source)

At this time, there is no cure for the disease. A treatment plan may be recommended to help a patient with symptoms. “Treatment approaches include medication and surgical therapy.  Others … include general lifestyle modifications (rest and exercise), physical therapy, support groups, occupational therapy and speech therapy.” (Source)

Scientists have recently discovered how other symptoms, not associated with motor movements, are at times revealed in the early stages of the disease. A loss of the sense of smell, sleep disorders and constipation, for example, may show up several years before tremors. As science progresses, researchers hope to be able to use these factors to diagnose Parkinson’s earlier and to be able to slow or stop the progression of the disease.

In the meantime, the best thing a sufferer can do is live well! Eating a healthy diet, along with getting exercise, drinking plenty of water can help with a variety of symptom. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco use, dopamine inhibitors, is highly recommended. Doing these things consistently will help:

  • keep bones and muscles strong, decreasing the chance of injury in the case of a fall
  • relieve uncomfortable constipation
  • promote more consistent sleeping
  • hedge the symptoms of depression associated with the chronic nature of the disease and how it affects the body

Parkinson’s Disease is complex but living with it is possible with some lifestyle modifications, following a doctor’s plan and getting help when needed. For more information on Parkinson’s Disease and the treatments, check out here and here.