Parkinson’s is the Second most Common Neurodegenerative Disease
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and the most common movement disorder. It is estimated that about a million Americans are afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and about 10 million suffer from it worldwide. It is listed as a chronic disease with no real cure, but certain drugs and treatments can help with the symptoms.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s causes tremors at rest, rigid muscles, problems with chewing, swallowing and speaking, inability to smell things, problems with walking with a typical shuffling kind of gait and problems with balance and coordination. Many unintentional falls are caused by Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s can also cause urinary problems, constipation, sleep disorders, depression, memory problems and fatigue.
The Brain Stops Producing Dopamine and Norepinephrine
Parkinson’s is caused when for some unknown reason the brain stops producing an important chemical called dopamine which controls movement and norepinephrine a chemical that controls many automatic functions in the body like heartbeat, blood pressure and digestion.
Onset of Parkinson’s
Symptoms come on gradually and it does not usually get diagnosed until it reaches a more advanced state. There are no lab or blood tests that can detect non genetic Parkinson’s and it is usually diagnosed by a neurologist.
Risk Factors for Contracting Parkinson’s Disease
- Aging is a Major Risk Factor for Contracting Parkinson’s Disease and it usually starts after age 60. However about 5-10% get early onset Parkinson’s before age 50.
- While it affects both men and women, it is 50% more common in men.
- According to several studies, low LDL cholesterol has been associated with a higher risk for contracting Parkinson’s disease.
- History of Parkinson’s in the family and genetics
- Injuries to the head, neck and upper spine are associated with a greater risk for getting Parkinson’s disease. It has been associated with boxing.
- Exposure to Pesticides and Toxic Substances
Preventing Parkinson’s Disease
Study Shows that Eating Fish may Prevent Parkinson’s
No one has been able to isolate the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease and for now it is believed that a combination of factors involving a-synuclein lead to the development of Parkinson’s. Clumps of the protein a-synuclein form into Lewy bodies which are also present in Lewy Body dementia.
A recent study showed that eating fish might prevent Parkinson’s. A kind of protein in fish β-parvalbumin (PV) inhibits the amyloid formation of α-synuclein that has been shown to play a major role in the development of Parkinson’s. PV is found in all fish, but especially in herring, cod, red fish and carp.
Several kinds of prescription drugs can help relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s. In some cases a surgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) whereby electrodes are surgically planted in the brain can help.
Therapeutic treatment for Parkinson’s seniors involves physical, occupational and speech therapy. The goals are to help with gait, tremors, rigidity and speaking.
As Parkinson’s advances, there may come a time when it is necessary to find long-term solutions like skilled nursing care. The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY is a skilled long-term nursing care facility that is equipped to help seniors suffering with Parkinson’s. Their excellent team has physical, occupational and speech therapists and they also have a fantastic recreational therapy department.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic incurable neurodegenerative illness. Treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms. Eating fish may help to prevent it.