September 01, 2016

Parkinson's disease

Following the changes

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is widely recognized but poorly understood by most people. It seems to be a bad disease, but then many people who have it can appear to be doing fairly well.

It's true that people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease — most of whom are 60 or older — typically have many more active and productive years of life ahead of them. Drug treatment aimed at managing the better-known signs and symptoms such as tremor and difficulty with movement is often very effective for years.

However, Parkinson's disease signs and symptoms progressively worsen, and the beneficial response to drug therapy is likely to diminish. In addition, Parkinson's disease can result in numerous other health problems — such as dementia, bladder and bowel difficulties, and sleep trouble. Working closely with your doctor can help you stay abreast of standard and newer treatment options as signs and symptoms change for you over time.

Lost connections

The primary process that causes Parkinson's disease signs and symptoms is when dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain die prematurely. Brain cells communicate with each other through chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Dopamine is one of the main neurotransmitters in the brain.

In a healthy brain, ample dopamine is produced so that the brain cells can coordinate smooth and precise muscle movements. However, when dopamine-producing cells are lost, brain cells communicate abnormally with muscles, which can lead to impaired body movement.

The hallmark of Parkinson's disease is the gradual and progressive loss of movement control. In fact, a...