What Are Lewy Bodies
The affected neurons of people with Parkinsons disease have been found to contain clumped proteins called Lewy bodies, but researchers arent yet sure why Lewy bodies form or what role they play in the disease.
Lewy bodies are clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein . Neurons cant break down these protein clumps, which may lead to the death of these cells.
Some other theories about what causes the death of brain cells in people with Parkinsons disease include free radical damage, inflammation, or toxins.
Symptoms That May Signal Early Parkinsons Disease
By Angie Kunnath 9 am on April 19, 2019
A neurological disease, Parkinsons occurs when certain components of the brain become damaged or die. While Parkinsons symptoms usually dont manifest until extensive damage to brain neurons has occurred, they can appear early on in the progression of the disease. Here are five common warning signs of Parkinsons disease in seniors.
History Of Parkinsons Disease
Symptoms and possible treatments for Parkinsons were discussed in texts related to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical practice thats been around since as early as 5,000 B.C. A Parkinsons-like condition was also mentioned in the first Chinese medical text, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, more than 2,500 years ago.
Parkinsons disease was formally recognized in an 1817 paper, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, by James Parkinson, MD, a London doctor and member of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Dr. Parkinson observed what are now known as the classic symptoms of Parkinsons disease, including tremors, rigidity, and postural instability. He theorized that the disease developed because of a problem in the brains medulla region.
Parkinsons essay received little attention until 1861, when French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and his colleagues distinguished the disease from other neurological conditions and termed it Parkinsons disease.
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What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Ease Parkinsons Symptoms
Exercise: Exercise helps improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and tremor. It is also strongly believed to improve memory, thinking and reduce the risk of falls and decrease anxiety and depression. One study in persons with Parkinsons disease showed that 2.5 hours of exercise per week resulted in improved ability to move and a slower decline in quality of life compared to those who didnt exercise or didnt start until later in the course of their disease. Some exercises to consider include strengthening or resistance training, stretching exercises or aerobics . All types of exercise are helpful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is not only good for your general health but can ease some of the non-movement related symptoms of Parkinsons, such as constipation. Eating foods high in fiber in particular can relieve constipation. The Mediterranean diet is one example of a healthy diet.
Preventing falls and maintaining balance: Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinson’s. While you can do many things to reduce your risk of falling, the two most important are: 1) to work with your doctor to ensure that your treatments whether medicines or deep brain stimulation are optimal and 2) to consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance. The physical therapist is the expert when it comes to recommending assistive devices or exercise to improve safety and preventing falls.
What Are The Risk Factors For Parkinsons Disease
Risk factors for Parkinsons disease include:
People with a first-degree relative with Parkinsons are at an increased risk for the disease possibly as much as 9 percent greater.
Fifteen to 25 percent of people with Parkinsons have a known relative with the disease, but a condition called familial Parkinsons, which has a known genetic link, is relatively rare.
The average age of onset is 60 years, and the incidence rises with advancing age. About 10 percent of people have early-onset or young-onset disease, which begins before age 50.
Parkinsons affects about 50 percent more men than women, for unknown reasons.
Exposure to some pesticides has been shown to raise the risk of developing Parkinsons.
Problematic chemicals include organochlorine pesticides like DDT, dieldrin, and chlordane. Rotenone and permethrin have also been implicated.
Fungicide and Herbicide Exposure
Exposure to the fungicide maneb or the herbicides 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid , paraquat, or Agent Orange may raise the risk of Parkinsons.
The U.S. Veterans Health Administration considers Parkinsons to be a possible service-related illness if the person was exposed to significant amounts of Agent Orange.
Head injuries may contribute to the development of Parkinsons in some people.
Coffee and Smoking
People who drink coffee or smoke tobacco have been found to have a lower risk of Parkinsons disease, for reasons that remain unclear.
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Parkinsons Disease Treatment With Light Therapy
Light therapy treatment works by using infrared lights to heal brain tissue damaged by a shortage of oxygen, toxic conditions, and mitochondrial malfunction.
Mitochondria help produce energy in cells and play a role in regulating cell activity. So, light therapy aims to decrease cell damage and death by protecting the dopamine-producing neurons.
It also has been proven that light therapy can minimize tissue inflammation and increase mitochondrial function.
It is not a targeted therapy because it works only on the neurological symptoms of numerous illnesses by slowing the neurodegenerative process.
This therapy model is able to achieve this by increasing mitochondrial function and boosting antioxidant pathways in the brain.
Some Parkinson’s Treatment Options
Parkinson’s disease has no cure, but there are treatment options to control your symptoms and improve your quality of life which include:
- Medication. Levodopa and other medications, which are trying to boost dopamine . There are number of those medications which can be used alone or in combination. Although many of those medications can help you significantly control your motor symptoms , you might also experience side effects and diminished efficacy over time.
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapy are usually part of your treatment plan and can improve your balance, mobility, ability to do daily tasks, and speech.
- Deep brain stimulation is a surgery performed by a neurosurgeon, and in indicated patients can help with motor symptoms, though non-motor symptoms, such as falls, constipation, low blood pressure and incontinence do not improve.
- Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that may help sufferers regain some of their balance and strength, as well as decrease the risk of falling. Dance, such as a Zumba, may also help, as can using a stationary bicycle and rock steady boxing.
Many treatment options for Parkinson’s are most effective when used in conjunction with others such as taking medication and doing physical therapy.
Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Neurologists usually describe the progression of Parkinsons symptoms in stages, using the system known as the Hoehn and Yahr scale. These stages are:
- Stage I Symptoms are seen on one side of the body only.
- Stage II Symptoms are seen on both sides of the body. Theres no impairment of balance.
- Stage III Balance impairment has begun. In this mild- to moderate stage of the disease, the person is still physically independent.
- Stage IV This stage is marked by severe disability, but the person is still able to walk or stand unassisted.
- Stage V The person is wheelchair-bound or bedridden unless assisted.
Stage One Of Parkinsons Disease
In stage one, the earliest stage, the symptoms of PD are mild and only seen on one side of the body , and there is usually minimal or no functional impairment.
The symptoms of PD at stage one may be so mild that the person doesnt seek medical attention or the physician is unable to make a diagnosis. Symptoms at stage one may include tremor, such as intermittent tremor of one hand, rigidity, or one hand or leg may feel more clumsy than another, or one side of the face may be affected, impacting the expression.
This stage is very difficult to diagnose and a physician may wait to see if the symptoms get worse over time before making a formal diagnosis.
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Changes To Your Walking
- Smaller steps
- Not swinging your arms while walking
- Multiple steps required to turn around when walking, possibly tripping up the feet
- One foot turning inward or outward a bit, causing tripping
- One arm could also be bent inward
The turning of the arm or foot, called dystonia, is often one of the first signs we see, so were always on the lookout for it, Dr. Joseph says.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Parkinsons Disease
Most cases of Parkinsons disease are idiopathic, meaning the cause is unclear.
Its widely believed that a person with Parkinsons may have been genetically vulnerable to the disease, and that one or more unknown factors in the environment eventually triggered the disease.
Normally, the neurons in this part of the brain make the chemical messenger dopamine, which allows communication with another area of the brain, the corpus striatum.
This communication helps produce smooth, purposeful movement. When the neurons in the substantia nigra die, the resulting loss of communication leads to the motor symptoms of Parkinsons.
Although the cause of this cell death is unknown, many researchers believe that the cells are killed by clumped proteins called Lewy bodies.
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Discuss With Your Physician
Non-motor symptoms can sometimes be difficult to recognize. Therefore, it is important to make your doctor aware of them.
One useful resource is the PD NMS Questionnaire. You can use this to record your symptoms and discuss them with your doctor.
Dr. Ron Postuma, whose research was funded by donations to the Parkinson Canada Research Program, has also developed tools to help people with Parkinsons and their physicians identify and manage non-motor symptoms.
How Many People Have Parkinsons Disease
Worldwide, there are more than 10 million Parkinsons patients and the Parkinsons Foundation predicts nearly 1 million Americans will have PD by 2020. Each year, the U.S. sees around 60,000 new diagnoses. Age and gender are the greatest risk factors. Around 96 percent of patients are over the age of 50 and men are around 1.5 times more likely to have PD.
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What Medications Are Used To Treat Parkinsons Disease
Medications are the main treatment method for patients with Parkinsons disease. Your doctor will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan best suited for you based on the severity of your disease at the time of diagnosis, side effects of the drug class and success or failure of symptom control of the medications you try.
Medications combat Parkinsons disease by:
- Helping nerve cells in the brain make dopamine.
- Mimicking the effects of dopamine in the brain.
- Blocking an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the brain.
- Reducing some specific symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
Levodopa: Levodopa is a main treatment for the slowness of movement, tremor, and stiffness symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine, which replenishes the low amount found in the brain of persons with Parkinsons disease. Levodopa is usually taken with carbidopa to allow more levodopa to reach the brain and to prevent or reduce the nausea and vomiting, low blood pressure and other side effects of levodopa. Sinemet® is available in an immediate release formula and a long-acting, controlled release formula. Rytary® is a newer version of levodopa/carbidopa that is a longer-acting capsule. The newest addition is Inbrija®, which is inhaled levodopa. It is used by people already taking regular carbidopa/levodopa for when they have off episodes .
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells, or neurons, in an area of the brain that controls movement become impaired and/or die. Normally, these neurons produce an important brain chemical known as dopamine. When the neurons die or become impaired, they produce less dopamine, which causes the movement problems of Parkinson’s. Scientists still do not know what causes cells that produce dopamine to die.
People with Parkinson’s also lose the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, the main chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls many functions of the body, such as heart rate and blood pressure. The loss of norepinephrine might help explain some of the non-movement features of Parkinson’s, such as fatigue, irregular blood pressure, decreased movement of food through the digestive tract, and sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up from a sitting or lying-down position.
Many brain cells of people with Parkinson’s contain Lewy bodies, unusual clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to better understand the normal and abnormal functions of alpha-synuclein and its relationship to genetic mutations that impact Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia.
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Exercise And Parkinsons Disease
Research conducted by the Parkinsons Foundation reveals that exercising at least 2.5 hours per week improves symptoms and slows disease progression. The group also found that the earlier patients began exercising, the more pronounced the benefits were.
To help with balance and mobility, the Foundation recommends aerobics, strength-training, and flexibility exercises. Popular options include:
- Weight lifting
The real secret to the best exercise program, though, is doing what you enjoy. For some ideas, please see our previous articles on strength-building exercise and how to begin an exercise program. And remember, never begin a new exercise regimen without talking to your doctor.
Who Suffers From Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease affects around 50% more men than women. The symptoms are usually seen during the age of 60 or even more.
According to the stats, around 10% of the patients are diagnosed with Parkinsons before 50. Each year, in the United States, approximately 60,000 people have Parkinsons disease.
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How Do I Prevent Falls From Common Hazards
- Floors: Remove all loose wires, cords, and throw rugs. Minimize clutter. Make sure rugs are anchored and smooth. Keep furniture in its usual place.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars and non-skid tape in the tub or shower. Use non-skid bath mats on the floor or install wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Lighting: Make sure halls, stairways, and entrances are well-lit. Install a night light in your bathroom or hallway and staircase. Turn lights on if you get up in the middle of the night. Make sure lamps or light switches are within reach of the bed if you have to get up during the night.
- Kitchen: Install non-skid rubber mats near the sink and stove. Clean spills immediately.
- Stairs: Make sure treads, rails, and rugs are secure. Install a rail on both sides of the stairs. If stairs are a threat, it might be helpful to arrange most of your activities on the lower level to reduce the number of times you must climb the stairs.
- Entrances and doorways: Install metal handles on the walls adjacent to the doorknobs of all doors to make it more secure as you travel through the doorway.
Contact Our Information And Referral Helpline
The Parkinson Canada Information and Referral Helpline is a toll-free Canada-wide number for people living with Parkinsons, their caregivers and health care professionals. We provide free and confidential non-medical information and referral services. When you have questions or need assistance, our information and referral staff help connect you with resources and community programs and services that can help you. We provide help by phone or email, Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m. ET.
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Increased Urination Urgency And Frequency
Bladder problems are a common occurrence in people with Parkinsons, occurring in 30-40 percent of people with the disease. The most common urinary symptom is a frequent and urgent need to urinate even when the bladder is empty, as well as trouble delaying urination.
Trouble emptying the bladder is a less common feature of Parkinsons urinary dysfunction. It may be caused by difficulty in relaxing the urethral sphincter muscles that allow the bladder to empty.
Defining Populations At Risk For Parkinsons Disease
One of the areas of research that aims to aid in the early detection and treatment of PD is seeking to identify biomarkersprotein or chemicals in the blood, urine, or cerebrospinal fluid that reliably help diagnose PD, particularly at the early stage. For example, a recent study detected aggregates of alpha-synuclein in the cerebrospinal fluid. These aggregates were found in PD patients but not patients with other neurologic disorders. Many research studies are attempting to identify new biomarkers, particularly those that may even predict whether someone will develop PD over time.5
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Stage Five Of Parkinsons Disease
Stage five is the most advanced and is characterized by an inability to rise from a chair or get out of bed without help, they may have a tendency to fall when standing or turning, and they may freeze or stumble when walking.
Around-the-clock assistance is required at this stage to reduce the risk of falling and help the patient with all daily activities. At stage five, the patient may also experience hallucinations or delusions.
While the symptoms worsen over time, it is worth noting that some patients with PD never reach stage five. Also, the length of time to progress through the different stages varies from individual to individual. Not all the symptoms may occur in one individual either. For example, one person may have a tremor but balance remains intact. In addition, there are treatments available that can help at every stage of the disease. However, the earlier the diagnosis, and the earlier the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment is at alleviating symptoms.