Im 35 With Two Young Children And Parkinsons
At 29, Ellie Finch Hulme was diagnosed with a condition often associated with much older people – Parkinson’s disease. She decided it wasn’t going to stop her living her life the way she wanted to.
Ellie doesn’t fit the stereotype of someone with Parkinson’s disease, as one of her recent tweets makes clear.
One 35-year-oldTwo kids, aged 4 and 2Three different medicationsFive years living with #parkinsonsAnd I don’t even look like your neighbour’s friend’s gran.
People are often shocked when they meet her for the first time, she says.
“I volunteer in a local charity shop occasionally around the kids and around my work and if I’m trembling, if I have to wrap something up – because anything can set off your tremor – someone will say something like, ‘Is it your first day here?’ And I’ll be like, ‘No, I’ve got Parkinson’s.'”
They expect someone with Parkinson’s to be white-haired and stooping, but Ellie, who lives in Farnham in Surrey, has young onset Parkinson’s disease, and was diagnosed before she was 30.
Environmental Factors And Exposures
Exposure to pesticides and a history of head injury have each been linked with PD, but the risks are modest. Never having smoked cigarettes, and never drinking caffeinated beverages, are also associated with small increases in risk of developing PD.
Low concentrations of urate in the blood is associated with an increased risk of PD.
Different medical drugs have been implicated in cases of parkinsonism. Drug-induced parkinsonism is normally reversible by stopping the offending agent. Drugs include:
The 5 Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Getting older is underrated by most. Its a joyful experience to sit back, relax and watch the people in your life grow up, have kids of their own and flourish. Age can be a beautiful thing, even as our bodies begin to slow down. We spoke with David Shprecher, DO, movement disorders director at Banner Sun Health Research Institute about a well-known illness which afflicts as many as 2% of people older than 65, Parkinsons Disease.
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What Are Parkinson’s Tremors
Parkinson’s tremors are a form of resting tremor associated with Parkinson’s disease. The tremor is very distinctive in appearance, making it easy to identify. If a patient appears to be experiencing Parkinson’s tremors, a doctor will perform an evaluation to look for other diagnostic signs. Treatments are available for the management of Parkinson’s disease and early treatment can be highly beneficial for patients.
This degenerative neurological disease causes damage to the cells of the brain responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates movement. Tremors are one of the hallmark signs of Parkinson’s. Like other resting tremors, Parkinson’s tremors occur when the affected limb is still, and will resolve when the patient moves.
The classic Parkinson’s tremor is known as the pill-rolling tremor because it looks like a patient is rolling a pill between the index finger and thumb. It is very rhythmic, and involves a steady back and forth motion. Parkinson’s tremors can spread up the arm and may also appear in the feet and legs. Sometimes, only one side of the body is involved. More rarely, tremors appear in the face or jaw, and can look like a steady pulsing or twitching.
The Nervous System & Dopamine
To understand Parkinson’s, it is helpful to understand how neurons work and how PD affects the brain .
Nerve cells, or neurons, are responsible for sending and receiving nerve impulses or messages between the body and the brain. Try to picture electrical wiring in your home. An electrical circuit is made up of numerous wires connected in such a way that when a light switch is turned on, a light bulb will beam. Similarly, a neuron that is excited will transmit its energy to neurons that are next to it.
Neurons have a cell body with branching arms, called dendrites, which act like antennae and pick up messages. Axons carry messages away from the cell body. Impulses travel from neuron to neuron, from the axon of one cell to the dendrites of another, by crossing over a tiny gap between the two nerve cells called a synapse. Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters allow the electrical impulse to cross the gap.
Neurons talk to each other in the following manner :
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A Day In The Life Of A Parkinsons Disease Sufferer
A Typical Morning
What is Parkinsons disease?
Parkinsons disease is largely thought of as a condition of affecting motor control. James Beck, PhD, vice president of scientific affairs for the Parkinsons Disease Foundation , says that while every case is different, the four cardinal signs of the disease are tremor, muscle rigidity, bradykinesia or akinesia , and problems with walking and balance. These symptoms occur as cells in a part of the brain known as the substantia nigra begin to die off, for reasons that remain unknown. These cells produce an important chemical neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Without dopamine, the brain is unable to control muscle movement. But dopamine is so much more than that. You may have heard it referred to as the happiness neurotransmitter, so its no surprise that two of the non-motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease are depression and apathy. Add to that pain from rigid muscles, blood pressure instability, drooling, sweating, constipation, impaired cognition, and absolutely crushing fatigue, and youve got yourself a disease that affects just about every facet of life. A person with mid-stage Parkinsons disease walking around may look like they are drunk, says Dr. Beck. They commonly have slurred speech, and swallowing is another problem, which can contribute to drooling. This constellation of motor effects looks like drunkenness, but their minds are clear.
Treatment for Parkinsons
Dementia With Lewy Bodies
- Dementia with Lewy bodies is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder in which abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein build up in multiple areas of the brain.
- DLB first causes progressive problems with memory and fluctuations in thinking, as well as hallucinations. These symptoms are joined later in the course of the disease by parkinsonism with slowness, stiffness and other symptoms similar to PD.
- While the same abnormal protein is found in the brains of those with PD, when individuals with PD develop memory and thinking problems it tends to occur later in the course of their disease.
- There are no specific treatments for DLB. Treatment focuses on symptoms.
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Brain Imaging In Parkinsons Disease
Traditional brain imaging with CT and MRI scans do not show changes in the brain when someone has Parkinsons disease and are generally not helpful in diagnosis. A new kind of brain scan, called a DaT scan, does show changes in persons with Parkinsons disease and may someday become an important tool in diagnosing Parkinsons.
The dopamine transporter, or DaT, scan uses a chemical that labels the dopamine transporter in the area of the brain known as the striatum. Dopamine is a neurochemical that is decreased in persons with Parkinsons disease.
The dopamine transporter, which moves dopamine in and out of cells, is also decreased in the striatum in persons with Parkinsons disease and related disorders. The chemical that labels the transporter is injected into the vein and can be imaged by using something called single photon emission computerized tomography, or SPECT scanning. This technique has been registered in the European Union since 2000 for differentiating a diagnosis of essential tremor and a parkinsonian syndrome. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 for this same indication and recently became available at the OHSU Brain Institute.
Is Surgery An Option
If medicine doesnât work well enough, your doctor may suggest deep brain stimulation . In DBS, your doctor implants electrodes deep in the brain. A device connected to them delivers electrical pulses. Those pulses can help control the tremors caused by Parkinson’s.
In the past, doctors sometimes used other operations to damage the brain in ways to help with movement symptoms. But they rarely use those surgeries now.
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What Is The Treatment For Parkinson’s Disease
There is currently no treatment to cure Parkinson’s disease. Several therapies are available to delay the onset of motor symptoms and to ameliorate motor symptoms. All of these therapies are designed to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain either by replacing dopamine, mimicking dopamine, or prolonging the effect of dopamine by inhibiting its breakdown. Studies have shown that early therapy in the non-motor stage can delay the onset of motor symptoms, thereby extending quality of life.
The most effective therapy for Parkinson’s disease is levodopa , which is converted to dopamine in the brain. However, because long-term treatment with levodopa can lead to unpleasant side effects , its use is often delayed until motor impairment is more severe. Levodopa is frequently prescribed together with carbidopa , which prevents levodopa from being broken down before it reaches the brain. Co-treatment with carbidopa allows for a lower levodopa dose, thereby reducing side effects.
In earlier stages of Parkinson’s disease, substances that mimic the action of dopamine , and substances that reduce the breakdown of dopamine inhibitors) can be very efficacious in relieving motor symptoms. Unpleasant side effects of these preparations are quite common, including swelling caused by fluid accumulation in body tissues, drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, hallucinations, and nausea.
What Organs Are Affected By Parkinsons
Parkinsons disease is a degenerative, progressive disorder that affects nerve cells in deep parts of the brain called the basal ganglia and the substantia nigra. Nerve cells in the substantia nigra produce the neurotransmitter dopamine and are responsible for relaying messages that plan and control body movement.
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What Is The Prognosis And Life Expectancy For Parkinson’s Disease
The severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms and signs vary greatly from person to peson, and it is not possible to predict how quickly the disease will progress. Parkinson’s disease itself is not a fatal disease, and the average life expectancy is similar to that of people without the disease. Secondary complications, such as pneumonia, falling-related injuries, and choking can lead to death. Many treatment options can reduce some of the symptoms and prolong the quality of life.
How Is A Diagnosis Made
Because other conditions and medications mimic the symptoms of PD, getting an accurate diagnosis from a physician is important. No single test can confirm a diagnosis of PD, because the symptoms vary from person to person. A thorough history and physical exam should be enough for a diagnosis to be made. Other conditions that have Parkinsons-like symptoms include Parkinsons plus, essential tremor, progressive supranuclear palsy, multi-system atrophy, dystonia, and normal pressure hydrocephalus.
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Stiffness And Slow Movement
Parkinsons disease mainly affects adults older than 60. You may feel stiff and a little slow to get going in the morning at this stage of your life. This is a completely normal development in many healthy people. The difference with PD is that the stiffness and slowness it causes dont go away as you get up and start your day.
Stiffness of the limbs and slow movement appear early on with PD. These symptoms are caused by the impairment of the neurons that control movement. A person with PD will notice jerkier motions and move in a more uncoordinated pattern than before. Eventually, a person may develop the characteristic shuffling gait.
If You Live In South Jersey And Have Questions About The Final Stages Of Parkinsons Disease Or Hospice Care For Your Loved One Please Call Samaritan At 229
Samaritan is a member of the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation, a network of not-for-profit hospice and palliative providers across the country. If you know someone outside of our service area who is living with advanced illness and can benefit from hospice or palliative care, please call 1 -GET-NPHI for a referral to a not-for-profit provider in your area.
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What Are Stages Of Progression Known In Parkinsons Disease
The progression of Parkinsons disease is mostly divided into five stages-
Stage 1- This stage is characterized by the mildest form of Parkinsons. The symptoms are not so severe to interfere with daily tasks and overall lifestyle. Friends and family members may notice some sort of changes in the way the patient walks, his posture and some facial expression. One of the distinct symptom of Parkinsons is the tremors are other problems in movement and exclusive to one side of the body. If doctor is consulted at this stage, the prescribed medication can help ease out the symptoms at this stage of Parkinsons disease.
Stage 2- This phase is considered to be the moderate form of Parkinsons because the symptoms get distinctively noticed by people. Muscle stiffness is quite common at this stage. It must be remembered that although there may be an increase of tremors and irregular posture, stage 2 Parkinsons disease does not impair the balance of the patient.
Stage 3- The Parkinsons disease patient may experience a turning point in this stage as along with the symptoms he may not be able to maintain his balance and experience decreased reflexes. Movements become slower and falls become common. Medication along with occupational therapy may be advised.
Stage 4- It becomes impossible to even stand without assistance at stage 4 Parkinsons disease. Living alone may make daily tasks impossible and dangerous. Thus, the patient will need a caregiver from this stage.
Imaging And Differential Diagnosis
The core clinical signs of PD include resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability. Most patients also experience nonmotor symptoms such as cognitive and emotional changes , dysautonomia, sleep disorders, and sensory disturbances. Many experience prodromal nonmotor symptoms such as anosmia, depression, constipation, and REM sleep behavior. Clinical subtypes of the disease have been identified, including tremor dominant and postural instability gait difficulty . Atypical features may be clues that there are other etiologies that can be differentiated with imaging studies.1 Structural brain imaging is frequently ordered to investigate these cases. In addition, SPECT imaging with DaT may be useful to confirm central nervous system dopamine signaling deficiency in select cases . On DaT scans, normal radiotracer uptake in the striatum forms 2 crescent-shaped regions of activity, mirrored around the median plane. In contrast, in PD, there is asymmetrically decreased activity in the putamen, often with preserved uptake in the caudate nucleus.2,3 A DaT scan is FDA approved for differentiating essential tremor from PD, and is also frequently useful for differentiating drug-induced parkinsonism from PD.
Multiple System Atrophy
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
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Embarrassing Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
Some symptoms that may occur in people with Parkinsons disease are not typical of it and so people noticing them may misunderstand them. These symptoms can be particularly embarrassing in social situations where other people witness their discomfort. They distress some people so much that they avoid company other than close friends or family. Most of these symptoms are caused by Parkinsons but some are side effects of the medicines used to treat it. All the symptoms tend to fluctuate in relation to the medication, and some people had learnt to adjust their medicine regime to minimise these effects.
Eating can cause embarrassment in several ways. Both tremor and dyskinesia affect the physical job of cutting up food and directing it into the mouth . Several people had a problem with a piece of steak or chicken that might fly off the plate as they tried to cut it up, or they had a choking fit if they unwisely took too big a piece into their mouth. Humphrey disliked eating out with friends because he tended to drop things.
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.
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Treatment: Boosting Dopamines Effects
Your doctor might give you one of these, alone or with another drug:
- Dopamine agonists: They act like dopamine but donât raise levels of it in your brain. You can take them with any drug that has levodopa. You might try pramipexole or ropinirole .
- COMT Inhibitors: They help levodopa last longer. You might get entacapone or tolcapone .
- MAO-B inhibitors: These stop your brain from breaking down levodopa. You could get selegiline or rasagiline .
How Is Parkinsons Diagnosed
Doctors use your medical history and physical examination to diagnose Parkinson’s disease . No blood test, brain scan or other test can be used to make a definitive diagnosis of PD.
Researchers believe that in most people, Parkinson’s is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Certain environmental exposures, such as pesticides and head injury, are associated with an increased risk of PD. Still, most people have no clear exposure that doctors can point to as a straightforward cause. The same goes for genetics. Certain genetic mutations are linked to an increased risk of PD. But in the vast majority of people, Parkinsons is not directly related to a single genetic mutation. Learning more about the genetics of Parkinsons is one of our best chances to understand more about the disease and discover how to slow or stop its progression.
Aging is the greatest risk factor for Parkinsons, and the average age at diagnosis is 60. Still, some people get PD at 40 or younger.
Men are diagnosed with Parkinsons at a higher rate than women and whites more than other races. Researchers are studying these disparities to understand more about the disease and health care access and to improve inclusivity across care and research.
Aging is the greatest risk factor for Parkinsons, and the average age at diagnosis is 60. Still, some people get PD at 40 or younger.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation has made finding a test for Parkinsons disease one of our top priorities.
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