Parkinson’s Disease : Tests & Treatment

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the brain that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. This is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain.

Tests & Diagnostics

The health care provider may be able to diagnose Parkinson’s disease based on your symptoms and a physical examination. However, the symptoms can be difficult to assess, particularly in the elderly. The signs (tremor, change in muscle tone, problems walking, unsteady posture) become more clear as the illness progresses.
An examination may show:
1. Difficulty starting or finishing voluntary movements
2. Jerky, stiff movements
3. Muscle atrophy
4. Parkinson’s tremors
5. Variation in heart rate
Reflexes should be normal.
Tests may be needed to rule out other disorders that cause similar symptoms.

Treatments

There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms.

Medications control symptoms, mostly by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain. At certain points during the day, the helpful effects of the medication often wears off, and symptoms can return. Your doctor need to be change the:
1. Type of medication
2. Dose
3. Amount of time between doses
4. How the medications are taken
Work closely with your doctors and therapists to adjust the treatment program. Never change or stop taking any medications without talking with your doctor.

Many medications can cause severe side effects, including hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and delirium. Monitoring and follow-up by the health care provider is important.
Eventually, symptoms such as stooped posture, frozen movements, and speech difficulties may not respond very well to drug treatment.

Lifestyle changes that may be helpful for Parkinson’s disease:
1. Good general nutrition and health
2. Exercising, but adjusting the activity level to meet changing energy levels
3. Regular rest periods and avoiding stress
4. Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy
Railings or banisters placed in commonly used areas of the house

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