What Causes Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons 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 Parkinsons. Scientists still do not know what causes cells that produce dopamine to die.
People with Parkinsons 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 Parkinsons, 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 Parkinsons 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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What You Can Expect
Parkinson does follow a broad pattern. While it moves at different paces for different people, changes tend to come on slowly. Symptoms usually get worse over time, and new ones probably will pop up along the way.
Parkinsonâs doesnât always affect how long you live. But it can change your quality of life in a major way. After about 10 years, most people will have at least one major issue, like dementia or a physical disability.
Locating The Basal Ganglia
The basal ganglia are collections of nerve cells located deep within the brain. They include the following:
The basal ganglia help initiate and smooth out muscle movements, suppress involuntary movements, and coordinate changes in posture.
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What Does It Mean To Have Parkinsons Disease
If your diagnosis turns positive for the Parkinsons disease, then do not worry, as you still have the chance to lead a productive life by making a alterations. If Parkinsons disease is detected in the early stages, then it is possible to keep the symptoms in check by controlling the food that you eat and with the aid of medicines. However, the effectiveness of the medication ceases over a period and produces side effects. There is a surgical method, called as deep brain stimulation , to cure the condition of Parkinsons disease. But, due to the high risks involved with the procedure, many patients or for that reason, a neurologist, never prefers the same to any patient. Choosing the operation is only useful for patients when the medicines do not show any effect, and the symptoms are worsening over the period.
After from controlling the food and consuming medicines, it is likewise meaningful to add exercises to the daily routine. It will help in keeping a check on the symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
How Does Parkinsons Kill You
Most of the patients that have Parkinsons disease do not die specifically from it. Please, allow me to explain better.
As it is an affection that compromises several organs, it may trigger inadequate responses in each one of them. Nonetheless, the same diseases that cause death on healthy patients cause death on these patients.
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How Do You Die Of Parkinson’s Disease
Asked by Deb Nigra 431 votes
Parkinsons disease, a chronic, progressive movement disorder characterized by tremors and stiffness, is not considered a fatal disease in and of itself, though it may reduce life expectancy by a modest amount. It is often said that people die with Parkinsons rather than of the disease.
People who are healthy when diagnosed will generally live about as long as other people in their age cohort, said James Beck, the vice president for scientific affairs at the Parkinsons Disease Foundation, which is involved in research, education and advocacy. It is not a death sentence.
Since Parkinsons generally affects people later in life patients are typically given a diagnosis in their 60s patients often die of unrelated age-related diseases like cancer, heart disease or stroke. But the most common cause of death in those with Parkinsons is pneumonia, because the disease impairs patients ability to swallow, putting them at risk for inhaling or aspirating food or liquids into their lungs, leading to aspiration pneumonia.
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A Sign Of Things To Come
Considerable evidence now suggests that the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may be nondopaminergic ones. Support for this possibility comes from the work of Heiko Braak at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt. In 2003 he and his colleagues carried out postmortem examinations of the brains of elderly people to determine the distribution of Lewy bodies and Lewyneurites . Based on his results he believed that the pathological changes in brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease begin in the olfactory regions and the lower brain stem and then spread to involve the more classic dopaminergic areas in the midbrain . In the final stage, pathologic changes are found diffusely throughout the cerebral cortex, likely accounting for the dementia that so frequently accompanies motor impairments. That is, he argued that nondopaminergic regions are affected before dopaminergic ones.
Figure 7. Postmortem studies suggest that neural degeneration progresses systematically in Parkinson’s disease. The first portion of the brain affected appears to be in the brain stem . Later , degeneration expands to include the substantia nigra , the striatum and other portions of the mid-brain . In its later stages , the disease begins also to compromise portions of the cerebral cortex .
Figure 8. Although they are largely unappreciated by physicians, many nonmotor symptoms arise in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
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Stay On Top Of Insurance
If you were always the one who handled questions of insurance coverage, great but if not, you may want to familiarize yourself with the terms of your health insurance. Youll need to know details about if and to what extent your plan covers prescriptions, therapy sessions and other unexpected items.
How Does Environment Come Into It
Your environment is a hard one to pin down. Partly, that’s because it covers a lot of ground. It’s everything that’s not your genes, which could mean where you live, what you eat, chemicals you’ve come into contact with, and more.
Not only that, but it could take years for the effects from something in your environment to show up. So far, doctors have a lot of clues but no smoking gun. So you could have people who live or work in an area around chemicals tied to Parkinson’s, but many of them don’t get it.
Some research shows links between Parkinson’s and:
- Agent Orange, a chemical used to destroy trees and crops in the Vietnam War.
- Certain chemicals used in farming, such as insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
- Some metals and chemicals used in factories, such as manganese, lead, and trichlorethylene .
These can come into play based on where you live, what you do for work, or if you served in the military. Sometimes, these chemicals seep into well water, so that’s one more way they can affect you.
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What Happens If Parkinsons Is Left Untreated
Despite being a neurodegenerative disease with no cure, Parkinsons disease is the most treatable of them.
However, if a patient decides not to receive treatment or does not know he has the disease, things can progress in a very severe way.
Parkinsons disease that does not receive treatment worsens over the years it may damage all brain functions and early death.
Patients may experience a rapid decline in cognitive brain functions. They can experience short-term memory deficits and abnormal central processing speed.
These patients as well, may develop neuropsychiatric symptoms in the early and later stages of the disease that can get worse. Symptoms like anxiety, apathy, and depression become troublesome on these patients as well as a rapid onset of psychotic symptoms.
These patients may present as well as serious motor symptoms that may disable them to perform daily tasks. Tremor and muscle stiffness may become difficult to control without proper treatment.
Furthermore, patients will experience difficulties for eating as they cannot chew and swallow properly drooling is common on these patients. A slower digestive tract may lead to constipation and abdominal pain. These patients will have bladder problems too, which can make daily life very difficult.
Daily life for patients with untreated Parkinsons disease can become challenging. It can reach the point where these patients should remain at home.
Changes Inside The Brain
In Parkinson disease, nerve cells in part of the basal ganglia degenerate.
The basal ganglia are collections of nerve cells located deep within the brain. They help do the following:
Initiate and smooth out intended muscle movements
Suppress involuntary movements
Coordinate changes in posture
When the brain initiates an impulse to move a muscle , the impulse passes through the basal ganglia. Like all nerve cells, those in the basal ganglia release chemical messengers that trigger the next nerve cell in the pathway to send an impulse. A key neurotransmitter in the basal ganglia is dopamine. Its overall effect is to increase nerve impulses to muscles.
When nerve cells in the basal ganglia degenerate, they produce less dopamine, and the number of connections between nerve cells in the basal ganglia decreases. As a result, the basal ganglia cannot control muscle movement as they normally do, leading to tremor, slow movement , a tendency to move less , problems with posture and walking, and some loss of coordination.
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Behaviors Seen In Parkinsons Disease Dementia
As dementia progresses, managing disorientation, confusion, agitation, and impulsivity can be a key component of care.
Some patients experience hallucinations or delusions as a complication of Parkinsons disease. These may be frightening and debilitating. Approximately 50 percent of those with the disease may experience them.
The best thing to do when giving care to someone experiencing hallucinations or delusions from Parkinsons disease dementia is to keep them calm and reduce their stress.
Take note of their symptoms and what they were doing before they exhibited signs of hallucinating and then let their doctor know.
This element of the disease can be particularly challenging for caregivers. Patients may become unable to care for themselves or be left alone.
Some ways to make caregiving easier include:
- sticking to a normal routine whenever possible
- being extra comforting after any medical procedures
- limiting distractions
- using curtains, nightlights, and clocks to help stick to a regular sleep schedule
- remembering that the behaviors are a factor of the disease and not the person
What Are The Complications Of Parkinson Disease
Parkinson disease causes physical symptoms at first. Problems with cognitive function, including forgetfulness and trouble with concentration, may arise later. As the disease gets worse with time, many people develop dementia. This can cause profound memory loss and makes it hard to maintain relationships.
Parkinson disease dementia can cause problems with:
- Speaking and communicating with others
- Problem solving
- Paying attention
If you have Parkinson disease and dementia, in time, you likely wont be able to live by yourself. Dementia affects your ability to care of yourself, even if you can still physically do daily tasks.
Experts dont understand how or why dementia often occurs with Parkinson disease. Its clear, though, that dementia and problems with cognitive function are linked to changes in the brain that cause problems with movement. As with Parkinson disease, dementia occurs when nerve cells degenerate, leading to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson disease dementia may be treated with medicines also used to treat Alzheimers disease, another type of dementia.
Does Parkinsons Affect Your Lifespan
Parkinsons research and treatments have come a long way, so much so that the average life span of a person with Parkinsons is the same or near the same as someone without Parkinsons disease. However, the lifespan of a person can vary widely based upon that persons health choices, such as their diet, exercise routine, if they have a history of smoking and many other factors. So, for most people with Parkinsons, as long as you focus on managing your Parkinsons disease and make healthy choices your lifespan should not be shortened.
Why Do Parkinsons Patients Lose Weight
Several causes may induce weight loss. Weight loss is a non-specific symptom and could be a sign of a wide variety of medical problems, including cancer. Therefore, acute weight loss is an entity that a physician should examine to identify its cause.
Suppose the patient suffers from Parkinsons disease, and the physician does not find any other possible cause. In that case, the weight loss shall be attributed to Parkinsons.
Among PD patients, many possible causes may lead to weight loss. The reasons vary from people to people, but each one can contribute to developing weight loss. People with Parkinsons disease have a decrease in appetite, and it has various possible causes.
- The alteration, in the sense of smell, disables them from tasting food and reducing the amount of food.
- Apathy and depression
- Nausea due to medications
Asides from the appetite loss, other possible causes go along with the motor symptoms of the disease. These motor symptoms may induce an increase in energy expenditure.
- Dyskinesias are pointless and involuntary movements that can be a side effect of the treatment with levodopa.
- Essential tremor, resting tremor, and as well as muscle stiffness can be causes of excessive energy consumption and subsequent weight loss.
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Causes Of Parkinsons Disease
At present, we do not know the cause of Parkinsons disease. In most people there is no family history of Parkinsons Researchers worldwide are investigating possible causes, including:
- environmental triggers, pesticides, toxins, chemicals
- genetic factors
- combinations of environment and genetic factors
- head trauma.
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What Organs Does Parkinson Disease Affect
Parkinsons disease is characteristical, a movement disorder responsive to dopaminergic medication. But it does not only affect the movement or body motor system. It changes as well the autonomic nervous system that controls the involuntary actions of the body.
These automatic actions of the body include some like a heart beating, sweating, swallowing, and bowel movements for digestion. The autonomic nervous system has two subdivisions, the sympathetic system, and the parasympathetic system.
The sympathetic system functions apply when the body enters in an alert state and the parasympathetic when the body relaxes. Of course, both are in balance through a typical day accomplishing physiological functions of the body.
There is mounting evidence that PD patients have affection in neurons of the autonomic pathways. Consequently, autonomic physiology may serve as a window into non-motor PD onset and progression of the disease. These are the most common systems that Parkinsons disease affects:
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Does Parkinsons Run In Families
Genetics cause about 10% to 15% of all Parkinsons cases. Studies reveal that the appearance of Parkinsons disease is a mix of genetics and environmental factors that induce the development of the disease.
In some families, changes in specific genes are passed down from generation to generation. Yes, Parkinsons disease can run in families, but it is rare. Despite that, if someone is positive for gene mutations directly correlated to Parkinsons disease, that does not mean that the patient will surely develop Parkinsons.
It is possible for people who inherit these genes not to develop the disease if there is no environmental factor that triggers it and a healthy lifestyle.
There are ongoing clinical trials testing therapies to treat people with Parkinsons that carry specific gene mutations. For doctors, it is essential to know which gene mutation does the patient carries.
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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
Reach out to your provider if trouble sleeping harms your quality of life. Always call your healthcare provider if you experience symptoms that worry you, especially if they could put you or those around you in danger.
Sometimes, a sleep disturbance could be a sign of depression related to Parkinson’s disease. If youve lost interest in activities you once loved or feel numb to whats going on in your life, reach out to a provider you trust. Some people feel better after starting a new medication or talking to someone about what theyre feeling. You dont have to feel like this.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Researchers continue to study the sleep-Parkinsons disease relationship. Understanding more about how Parkinsons affects sleep may lead to earlier detection of Parkinsons disease and more effective treatments. Even now, you have plenty of options to treat sleep problems. Be open with your provider about any sleep issues youre having. Together, you can find a plan that improves your sleep as well as any other challenges Parkinsons disease may create in your life.