Parkinson’s disease is a progressive and degenerative brain disorder that impairs movement and affects other basic motor functions, with symptoms starting gradually before getting worse over time, causing difficulties in certain activities. Walking, eating, talking, writing, and sleeping are some of the functions that are affected the most; however, the disease is also capable of causing mental and behavioral changes such as fatigue, depression, and memory problems. The onset of Parkinson’s disease happens at around age 60, which is a major risk factor along with heredity and toxin exposure, and it can sometimes develop at early-onset due to inheritance or specific gene mutations.
The major cause of Parkinson’s is tied to nerve cells in the brain breaking down or dying, especially those in the basal ganglia area (which is tied to movement). These nerve cells are responsible for the creation of a chemical messenger called dopamine, which is used to send messages between neurons. A decrease in dopamine is what ends up causing many symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Other causes are hereditary genetic mutations that increase risk, environmental triggers such as toxins, and the presence of Lewy bodies, which are clumps of substances found within brain cells.
Some of the warning symptoms that signal the development of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Tremor or shaking in a limb, often in the hands or fingers.
- Slowed movement, as well as losing the ability to perform unconscious movements like blinking or smiling.
- Rigid or stiff muscles, which can be painful and limit your range of motion.
- Impaired posture and balance
- Speech changes, including slurring words, speaking in monotone, or hesitating before talking.
- Writing changes or difficulties.
- Difficulty eating, chewing, or swallowing
- Depression and other emotional or behavioral changes
- Fatigue, pain, and dysfunction in the sense of smell.
- Sleeping disorders and other cognitive difficulties
While Parkinson’s disease has no cure at the moment, medical treatment and other therapies exist to help diminish and improve the disease in a person, including medicines that can increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and practicing preventive care to help manage the condition. Bright Care Medical Group is a primary care provider that specializes in preventive medicine for older adults, especially those at risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease, and we are equipped to best help you manage your well-being with our team of highly skilled and compassionate professionals.
If you have any questions or want to learn more you can reach us by calling (352) 708-3021 to schedule an appointment.