Complementary And Alternative Therapies
DO NOT try to treat Parkinson disease with alternative therapies alone. Used with conventional medications, complementary and alternative therapies may help provide some relief of symptoms and slow progression of the disease. Some CAM therapies may interfere with certain medications, so work with your physician to find the safest, most effective CAM therapies for you.
Parkinsons Disease Gets Diagnostic Help From Artificial Intelligence
Parkinsons Disease is one of several degenerative diseases in our neurologic system. It has a celebrity patient, Michael J Fox. Still, with a million patients living with the disease in the US and sixty thousand new diagnoses annually it lacks a biomarker to aid in early detection. An artificial intelligence program looking at nocturnal breathing may change that and, ultimately, how we care for these patients.
Parkinsons Disease is diagnosed by a cluster of symptoms related to its effect on motor nerves. There is no lab test or imaging study that makes the diagnosis. As a result, it often takes some time for a vague symptom to become so well established that a physician can identify it. Consequentially, the ability to make an early diagnosis is difficult. And because the disease is characterized by its symptoms, it is difficult for a physician to track PDs progress. After all, can you objectively say there is more weakness or a greater tremor based on subjective physical examinations months apart?
The current study used an artificial intelligence methodology to analyze the breathing patterns during sleep of roughly 7,600 patients and predicted the presence or development of PD in 90% of cases. But before jumping into the particulars of the study, a bit of background on PD.
Parkinsons Disease a bit of context
What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition
Parkinsons disease is a degenerative condition, meaning the effects on your brain get worse over time. However, this condition usually takes time to get worse. Most people have a normal life span with this condition.
You’ll need little to no help in the earlier stages and can keep living independently. As the effects worsen, youll need medication to limit how the symptoms affect you. Most medications, especially levodopa, are moderately or even very effective once your provider finds the minimum dose you need to treat your symptoms.
Most of the effects and symptoms are manageable with treatment, but the treatments become less effective and more complicated over time. Living independently will also become more and more difficult as the disease worsens.
How long does Parkinsons disease last?
Parkinsons disease isnt curable, which means its a permanent, life-long condition.
Whats the outlook for Parkinsons disease?
Parkinson’s disease isn’t fatal, but the symptoms and effects are often contributing factors to death. The average life expectancy for Parkinson’s disease in 1967 was a little under 10 years. Since then, the average life expectancy has increased by about 55%, rising to more than 14.5 years. That, combined with the fact that Parkinson’s diagnosis is much more likely after age 60, means this condition doesn’t often affect your life expectancy by more than a few years .
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Support For People Living With Parkinsons Disease
While the progression of Parkinsons is usually slow, eventually a persons daily routines may be affected. Activities such as working, taking care of a home, and participating in social activities with friends may become challenging. Experiencing these changes can be difficult, but support groups can help people cope. These groups can provide information, advice, and connections to resources for those living with Parkinsons disease, their families, and caregivers. The organizations listed below can help people find local support groups and other resources in their communities.
Who Gets Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsonâs disease, documented in 1817 by physician James Parkinson, is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimerâs disease. Estimates regarding the number of people in the United States with Parkinsonâs range from 500,000 to 1,500,000, with 50,000 to 60,000 new cases reported annually. No objective test for Parkinsonâs disease exists, so the misdiagnosis rate can be high, especially when a professional who doesnât regularly work with the disease makes the diagnosis.
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What Causes Parkinsons Symptoms
The underlying cause of Parkinsons symptoms relates to a decline in the production of a brain chemical called dopamine. Many of the cells which produce dopamine are in the Basal Ganglia located in the middle of the brain. This lack of dopamine means people can have difficulty controlling their movements and moving freely.
Recognize Parkinsons Disease Symptoms In A Loved One
Close friends and family members are often the first to notice the symptoms of Parkinsons disease. However, these changes are easily confused with the typical signs of aging, particularly in the early stages.
The symptoms of Parkinsons disease include:
- Tremors or shaking in the hand or jaw
- Jerky, rigid movements
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How To Talk To A Loved One About Parkinsons Disease
These are some strategies that can be helpful while talking to a loved one about Parkinsons disease:
- Check in regularly: Check in on the person regularly to ask them how theyre feeling and coping.
- Use empathetic language: Parkinsons disease can affect a persons ability to go about their daily life. The person might find it challenging to do things they once did easily. This can be difficult and frustrating for them. Try to be empathetic when you speak to them, so they feel supported.
- Offer assistance: As Parkinsons disease progresses, the person may not be able to drive, cook, clean, or care for themselves. Offer them your assistance and let them know they can count on you.
- Encourage them to settle their affairs: If your loved one is in a position to make important decisions, it can be helpful to encourage them to settle their affairs.
Risks And Benefits For People With Pd
There are risks and benefits associated with the use of cannabis for people with PD. Benefits include a possible improvement in anxiety, pain, sleep dysfunction, weight loss and nausea. Potential adverse effects include impaired cognition , dizziness, blurred vision, mood and behavioral changes, loss of balance and hallucinations. Chronic use of marijuana can increase the risk of mood disorders, particularly among young users, and lung cancer.
Researchers issue caution for people with PD who use cannabis particularly because of its effect on thinking. PD can impair the executive function the ability to make plans and limit risky behavior. People with a medical condition that impairs executive function should be cautious about using any medication that can compound this effect.
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Getting Dressed With Parkinsons Disease
Dressing someone with Parkinsons disease may become a time- and labor-intensive task as their motor skills and strength wane. In addition, muscle stiffness and painful muscle cramps can make dressing difficult and unpleasant. Whenever possible, replace buttons or zippers with Velcro or magnetized fasteners. Opt for loose-fitting clothing, which is easier and more comfortable to get on and off. An extra-long shoehorn can help with putting on shoes while seated. One of the most important things for a caregiver to remember when providing assistance with dressing is to go slow and set aside plenty of time for this activity of daily living .
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Staying Safe At Home With Parkinsons
Simple changes around the home can make it easier for you to function well while dealing with Parkinson’s symptoms. Pituch notes that healthcare providers can help you come up with a detailed plan for living safely and independently at home.
Discuss specific strategies with your Parkinson’s medical team to design a safer living space. Occupational therapists can suggest ways to create an environment that’s friendly to those with Parkinson’s this type of therapist looks at things like furniture placement, handrails, extensions on toilets, and floor coverings to determine where possible hazards lie.
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Drug Therapy And Research
If the disease progresses beyond minor symptoms, drug treatment may be indicated. Drug therapy for Parkinsonâs typically provides relief for 10â15 years or more. The most commonly prescribed medication is L-dopa , and this helps replenish some of the depleted dopamine in the brain. Sinemet, a combination of levodopa and carbidopa, is the drug most doctors use to treat Parkinsonâs disease. Recent clinical studies have suggested, in the younger person, the class of drugs called âdopamine agonistsâ should be used prior to levodopa-carpidopa except in patients with cognitive problems or hallucinations. In those older than 75, dopamine agonists should be used cautiously because of an added risk of hallucinations.
Other drugs are also used, and new drugs are continually being tested. It is common for multiple drugs to be prescribed because many of them work well together to control symptoms and reduce side effects. Contrary to past beliefs, starting Sinemet in newly diagnosed people does not lead to early symptoms of dyskinesia . Current knowledge is that the disease progression causes dyskinesias, not a âresistanceâ to the drug.
Quality of life studies show that early treatment with dopaminergic medications improves daily functioning, prevents falls, and improves a personâs sense of well-being.
Traditional Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese Medicine views disease as caused by internal imbalances. It has historically been used to treat Parkinson disease with acupuncture and individually prepared herbal remedies. One study showed that acupuncture improved symptoms in a small group of people with Parkinson disease. People with Parkinson disease may also find that acupuncture helps them sleep better. If you consult a TCM practitioner, make sure your doctor is aware of any suggested treatment.
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Parkinsons Disease: Causes Symptoms And Treatments
Parkinsons disease is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. They may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, memory difficulties, and fatigue.
While virtually anyone could be at risk for developing Parkinsons, some research studies suggest this disease affects more men than women. Its unclear why, but studies are underway to understand factors that may increase a persons risk. One clear risk is age: Although most people with Parkinsons first develop the disease after age 60, about 5% to 10% experience onset before the age of 50. Early-onset forms of Parkinsons are often, but not always, inherited, and some forms have been linked to specific gene mutations.
Forget Fava Beans For Parkinsons
Fava beans contain an amino acid known as levodopa. Levodopa is an active ingredient in some Parkinsons medications. Seems like a good reason to eat a lot of fava beans, right?
Nope. Dr. Gostkowski explains that the amount in the beans is tiny compared to whats in your medication. You cant eat enough fava beans to have any effect on your symptoms, he says.
Bananas also have levodopa in them, Dr. Gostkowski says. But, like fava beans, its not possible to eat enough bananas to affect PD symptoms. Of course, if you like fava beans or bananas, enjoy! But dont go overboard or expect them to work like medication. Eat a variety of fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains for balance.
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Bump Up Your Fiber Intake
A high-fiber diet is a proven way to avoid constipation, a common problem for people with PD.
Parkinsons can slow down the intestines and cause constipation, Dr. Gostkowski says. Fiber helps keep things moving. There are plenty of high-fiber foods out there, so choose your favorites. Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, and men should get 38 grams.
Parkinsons Disease Treatment Options
Parkinsons is incurable, but the symptoms can be managed as the disease progresses. Initially, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as ongoing aerobic exercise, healthy diet, and advice for avoiding falls.
Carbidopa-levodopa : Sometimes simply called Levodopa, is the most effective Parkinsons disease medication and has been since its breakthrough in the late 1960s. It is an effective first-line treatment for Parkinsons and comes in many formulations, including slow- and extended-release pills, and infusions. It works by introducing a natural chemical to the body which converts into dopamine in the brain. This helps reduce symptoms of stiffness and tremors. The medication does not slow the progression of the disease.
Catechol O-methyltransferase inhibitors: These pills can boost the effectiveness of carbidopa-levodopa. It helps block the brains dopamine breakdown to help reduce some of the tremors and motor symptoms of Parkinsons.
Dopamine agonists: This medication mimics the effect of dopamine in the brain and may be used with carbidopa-levodopa. It can be prescribed in the early stages of Parkinsons, and it can lengthen the effectiveness of carbidopa-levodopa.
Innovative surgical options
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Be Honest With Each Other
A trap some caregiver-patient partners can get into is one person becoming the nurse while the other is demoted to helpless patient. Thats not productive and can end up being harmful if, for example, the caregiver takes on responsibilities that the person with Parkinsons is perfectly capable of doing.
As a caregiver, try to start an open dialogue for tough conversations with your loved one where you come to an agreement about when the loved one truly needs help.
Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons has four main symptoms:
- Tremor in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
- Muscle stiffness, where muscle remains contracted for a long time
- Slowness of movement
- Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls
Other symptoms may include:
The symptoms of Parkinsons and the rate of progression differ among individuals. Early symptoms of this disease are subtle and occur gradually. For example, people may feel mild tremors or have difficulty getting out of a chair. They may notice that they speak too softly, or that their handwriting is slow and looks cramped or small. Friends or family members may be the first to notice changes in someone with early Parkinsons. They may see that the persons face lacks expression and animation, or that the person does not move an arm or leg normally.
People with Parkinson’s disease often develop a parkinsonian gait that includes a tendency to lean forward take small, quick steps and reduce swinging their arms. They also may have trouble initiating or continuing movement.
Symptoms often begin on one side of the body or even in one limb on one side of the body. As the disease progresses, it eventually affects both sides. However, the symptoms may still be more severe on one side than on the other.
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Changes In Cognition And Parkinsons Disease
Some people with Parkinsons may experience changes in their cognitive function, including problems with memory, attention, and the ability to plan and accomplish tasks. Stress, depression, and some medications may also contribute to these changes in cognition.
Over time, as the disease progresses, some people may develop dementia and be diagnosed with Parkinsons dementia, a type of Lewy body dementia. People with Parkinsons dementia may have severe memory and thinking problems that affect daily living.
Talk with your doctor if you or a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinsons disease and is experiencing problems with thinking or memory.
Making Your Home Safe
As Parkinson’s progresses, a person with the condition experiences more mobility issues. They’ll need more assistance going about their day-to-day lives. Getting around their home safely might also become a little more challenging.
Here are a couple of things you can do to make your home safer for a person with Parkinson’s disease:
- Keep the floors clear: Any things that can easily be tripped over on the floors of your home, like electrical cords, should be kept away. Keep the usual path they take through the house as clear as possible.
- Install ramps when needed: At the later stages of Parkinson’s, a person’s mobility might become so restricted that they need a wheelchair. It’s essential to make your home wheelchair-friendly and accessible if this happens.
- Make your bathroom safer: Install grab bars around the tub and anti-slip mats in them if you have a bathtub. Also, keep personal hygiene products within easy reach to prevent them from slipping or falling over trying to reach for them.
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Gait Training To Improve Balance
Patients with Parkinson’s symptoms can enhance their treatment by doing what’s called “gait training” at home. This involves practicing new ways to stand, walk, and turn. People undergoing gait training should try to:
Practice gait training with the help of a metronome, a tool musicians use to keep a steady beat. A study published in March 2010 in PLoS One showed that when people with Parkinson’s walked to the sound of a metronome set about 10 percent faster than their fastest stride, it significantly improved their gait.
You can also try dance classes for people with Parkinson’s through the Dance for PD program, which is supported by a grant from the National Parkinson Foundation. The classes first started in Brooklyn, New York, and are now found in locations across the globe.
Be Proactive About Improving Your Quality Of Life
The most important step you can take is to seek help right from the beginning. Education and support will help you deal with any challenges ahead. Taking action early will help you understand and deal with the many effects of the disease. A counselor or mental health care provider can design a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. The goal is to help you regain a sense of control over your life and improve your quality of life.
Other steps you can take include the following.
- Find out as much as you can about the condition.
- Talk to your friends and family about it. Don’t isolate them. They will want to be involved in helping you.
- Do things you enjoy.
- Donât be afraid to ask your doctor, nurse, or other health care provider to repeat any instructions or medical terms that you don’t understand or remember. They should always be available to answer your questions and address your concerns.
- Make use of resources and support services offered by your hospital and in your community.
- Learn to manage stress. This will help you to maintain a positive physical, emotional, and spiritual outlook. Being stressed out will only make the situation worse. You should try to organize a daily routine that will reduce stress, with down time for both you and your family members.
- If you are depressed — and this is more than just feeling sad occasionally — antidepressants can be prescribed to help lift your mood.
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