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Known to have affected more than 53 million people globally and caused close to 105,000 deaths as of the year 2013, Parkinson’s disease is a disorder which primarily affects the central nervous and motor systems (Morley et al., 2016). The disease is known to mostly affect the elderly, who are aged above 55 years. In comparison, more males than females get affected with the disease (Slagter et al., 2016). The primary objective of this essay is to outline the disease’ etiology, mainly mentioning some of the main causes of Parkinson’s disease. Also, the essay aims at outlining some of the symptoms, the treatment of the disease and both the short and long-term effects that result from these modes of treatment.
Parkinson’s disease Etiology
The deterioration of the neurons in the subtantia nigra area of the brain is the primary source of Parkinson’s disease. When these neurons function normally, they produce a certain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as the medium through which messages are transmitted between the subtantia nigra and the corpus striatum (Pringsheim et al., 2014). As a result of the transfer and exchange of messages between these two areas of the brain, there is a balance in the movement of the body muscles. However, when the neurons are affected, they fail to produce the dopamine which results to an abnormal functioning of the nerves. This disability of the nerves to function properly leads to the inability of one to control their muscles and other movements of the body, hence resulting to Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease mostly affects the muscles of the body. In many cases, the disease causes a rigidity of the body muscles making it hard for the patient to experience or carry out any body movements. Some of the muscles affected include the muscles of the face, legs, and the neck.
Also, the disease affects the face and the esophagus. When an individual is suffers from Parkinson’s disease, it becomes hard for the person to talk, swallow, and make facial expressions (Pringsheim et al., 2014). It is common to see a Parkinson’s disease patient drooling and having speeches which are softer and monotonous. In other circumstances, the patient could also have difficulty in making facial expressions, hence having what medics refer as “Parkinson’s Mask.”
Parkinson’s disease Pathology
Before getting further with the discussion, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease differs from one patient to the other. Also, the symptoms of the diseases may change as the disease progresses. With this in mind, it is common to find that the symptoms which one patient has could not be detected in another patient until the diseases progresses. Parkinson’s disease symptoms often start showing when one is at the age of 50 or 55 (Pringsheim et al., 2014). In many situations, these symptoms take a very long time to develop and sometimes go unnoticed until it is too late. However, this section aims at looking at some of the most common symptoms to look out for when suspecting the onset of the disease.
First, the patient may experience rigid and aching muscles. During the onset stages of the disease, the patient is most likely to experience rigidity and pains in some of his body muscles. For many, the arm muscles will start getting rigid leading to a reduced arm swing when walking (Slagter et al., 2016). Also, the rigidity may affect the muscles of the legs and the neck.
Difficulty with the body’s balance and walking will also be observed in people with the disease (Slagter et al., 2016). A patient suffering from this disease will often have a difficulty in their walking. This could be indicated by the patient taking small steps when walking and slightly bending at the waist. Also, the patient may experience some falls, although this often comes at the late stages of the disease.
Another symptom to watch out for is the weakness of both the throat and the face. As earlier mentioned, the body muscles get affected by the disease. Some of these muscles are situated on the face and the throat. When these facial and throat muscles get affected, the patient may find it hard speaking and swallowing. As a result, the patient may start drooling and having slow speech.
Treatment of Parkinson’s disease
Medics have determined that Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured (Morley et al., 2016). However, the effects of the symptoms can be reduced through using some medications. In cases where the medicines offered to the patient by the doctor fails, the doctor may then prescribe for a surgery.
Parkinson’s disease patients receive medicines which help them deal with the walking, movement, and tremor problems. The primary importance of these medicines is to help substitute for the missing dopamine. The medication which Parkinson’s disease patients receive include Carbidopa-levodopa which goes to the brain and is converted to dopamine. Carbidopa-levodopa infusion is given to patients with advanced stages of the condition. Carbidopa-levodopa infusion just works like the Carbidopa-levodopa, but is given to the patient via a tube to the small intestines (Slagter et al., 2016).
Dopamine agonists is also a medication which a patient may receive. Unlike the aforementioned medications, this medication does not change into dopamine. However, Dopamine agonists plays the role of dopamine in the brain. This type of medication are not as effective as levodopa in dealing with Parkinson’s disease.
Long-term and short-term Consequences
There are some effects which come with the disease and its treatment. When anticholinergics are used for a lengthy period of time, they tend to leave the patient with some effects. Some of these effect, however, are short-term, while others are long-term.
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On the short-term side, the drugs may leave the patient with dry mouth and feeling drowsy. Also, the patient, may experience some cases of urinary retention and have blurred vision. On the long-term side, the patient may have problems with their memory and may be left with dementia after the therapy.
As the first paragraph stated, Parkinson’s disease is known for killing a lot of people annually. Since most of the symptoms go unnoticed until it is too late, most of the patients get diagnosed with the disease. However, being on the lookout for some of these symptoms can help save the life of the patient, while helping reduce the costs of treating the disease.
- Morley, D., Kelly, L., Dummett, S., Dawson, J., Fitzpatrick, R., & Jenkinson, C. (2016). Comparing the functioning and well-being of people with motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. European Journal of Neurology, 23, 645.
- Pringsheim, T., Jette, N., Frolkis, A., & Steeves, T. D. (2014). The prevalence of Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Movement disorders, 29(13), 1583-1590.
- Slagter, H. A., van Wouwe, N. C., Kanoff, K., Grasman, R. P. P. P., Claassen, D. O., van den Wildenberg, W. P. M., & Wylie, S. A. (2016). Dopamine and temporal attention: An attentional blink study in Parkinson’s disease patients on and off medication. Neuropsychologia, 91, 407-414.