Healthy Living

The Number of Parkinson's Diagnoses Are Only Expected to Grow

The Number of Parkinson's Diagnoses Are Only Expected to Grow

On April 11th, everyone across the world is reminded of the patients and activists who are fighting to improve the conditions of those living with Parkinson's disease.

Though Parkinson's Day gives patients, caregivers, and others more of an understanding on the neurodegenerative disease, there is still not much known about the future of those who have it, and the number of diagnoses are only expected to grow.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic and degenerative disease that is reflected as a movement disorder. In the brain, there are some neurons that produce a chemical called dopamine that helps control muscle movement. Parkinson's disease causes the gradual death of neurons, which eventually makes them stop producing dopamine.

Without this chemical, the communication between the cells and the muscles is interrupted, making it difficult to control them.  At the moment, the origin of the disease is unknown, except for cases induced by trauma, drugs and medicines. The vast majority of cases affect men over 50, but it can also affect women and adults under 50.

The symptomatology of Parkinson's disease is varied as it starts with mild symptoms and then progressively becomes more severe over time. These symptoms range from tremors, stiffness, instability, slow blinking, issues swallowing, drooling, slow movements, a difference in writing and difficulty with movements.

The diagnosis can be made based exclusively on external symptoms and physical examination. But, because of this, this disease is normally not detected until the symptoms are noticeable and severe, which is also when the disease is in its most advanced stages.

Currently a group of Mexican scientists have discovered a test to be performed on the skin that can detect Parkinson's disease. After five years of research, they have achieved satisfactory results to early diagnose this disease. The test is based on the identification of a protein that is deposited in the brain of Parkinson's patients, and it has been demonstrated that this protein is also deposited in the skin of those suffering from the disease.

Treatment of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is not yet curable, so treatments are always aimed at reducing the speed at which it progresses and slowing the symptoms.

There are two types of treatments, drug treatment and surgery. Most drug treatments are aimed at stimulating the production of dopamine while surgical treatment is only indicated for some patients. This currently consists of deep brain stimulation by placing electrical implants on the areas of the brain that control movement. Deep brain stimulation is supposed to destroy the damaged brain tissue, thus draining the severe symptoms. In addition to these treatments, the possibility of stem cell transplantation is being studied.

One of the most important advances in the investigation of the disease has led to the appearance of a new drug that increases the time of efficacy and the clinical potency of those already existing.

Other fundamental aspects of treatment is being active and eating a healthy diet. It is also recommended to consult a specialist as soon as you suspect symptoms of the condition so that they could detect the disease as soon as possible.