5 Things Everyone Should Know About Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s disease was named in honor of James Parkinson, an English Doctor, who wrote about the disease in an essay intended for the medical community titled, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy (1817).
Parkinson discovered that when the brain’s nerve cells stop producing enough dopamine, a chemical that sends signals to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination, one might be at risk of contracting Parkinson’s Disease (PD). There are nearly 1 million Americans who live with Parkinson’s every day and up to 60,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.
In 2015, statistics stated that 6.2 million people worldwide had Parkinson’s, and the disease resulted in almost 118,000 deaths. Once you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, your average life expectancy is only 7 to 14 years.
The central nervous system is disrupted by Parkinson’s disease which is considered a progressive degenerative disorder. Parkinson’s primarily affects the body’s motor structure or the system that controls balance and movement. Symptoms may take a long time to appear, but when they appear, there is no doubt that your life is changing.
This neurological disorder has no respect for any person. It is common in the United States, and even celebrities get the disease. Linda Ronstadt is a sufferer, Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s disease, and Robin Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and in the first stages of the disease when he died. Other famous people include Olympic cyclist Davis Phinney and the professional boxer, Muhammad Ali.
Here are 5 facts that everyone should know about Parkinson's disease, whether you are a patient or a loved one.
5 Signs of Parkinson’s
1. Characteristics of Parkinson’s are tremors in the hands, legs, and arms.
Those with Parkinson’s also experience limb stiffness, slow movements, rigidity, a resistance of limb movements, poor balance, and weak coordination. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke state that first symptoms appear on one side of the body, and with time, progress to the other side of the body.
Poor posture or postural instability is symbolic of the later stages of Parkinson’s. This posture instability leads to impaired balance and frequent falls. There can be bone fractures, loss of confidence, and highly reduced mobility. You don’t see instability often in the initial stages, but up to 40 percent of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s will fall during the later stages of the disease.
There are also non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. These include bladder problems, difficulty speaking or swallowing, depression and constipation. Susan Schneider, the wife of Robin Williams, stated that depression was a big part of Robin’s Parkinson’s disease.
Depression often leads to behavior and mood alterations, apathy and anxiety. Symptoms can be a generalized anxiety disorder or social phobias, panic disorders and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Non-motor systems of Parkinson’s include neuropsychiatric problems of mood, cognition, thought alterations, and sensory difficulties. Sleep becomes difficult, and your sense of smell is permanently altered. Handwriting becomes shaky and smaller. Slurred speech is often a symptom, and mask-like facial expressions sometimes characterize this disease.
Read on to learn the other 4 things that everyone should understand about Parkinson's disease.