Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 50,000 individuals receive the diagnosis every year, with more than 500,000 Americans living with the condition. Since the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease typically begin barely noticeable, such as tremors in one hand, it’s important to see a Dulles neurology specialist ASAP to receive an accurate diagnosis and create a management plan.
Early signs of Parkinson’s disease are often mild, which means they usually go unnoticed. Tremors are a common symptom among patients, but it can also manifest as stiffness in the torso or slurred speech. Other symptoms include:
- Slowed movement
- Rigid muscles
- Compromised balance
- Impaired posture
- Loss of automatic or unconscious movements such as blinking or swaying your arms when you walk
- Writing changes
- Speech changes
Some symptoms, such as impaired posture and slowed movement, can also be attributed to many other conditions. That’s why it takes a neurologist in Leesburg, VA to contextualize your symptoms and make a correct diagnosis as early as possible.
Parkinson’s disease involves certain neurons responsible for movement breaking down or dying in the brain. While there are no known specific causes that lead to this condition, these elements are suspected to contribute to its growth and prevalence:
- Genetic mutations
- Environmental triggers
- The presence of Lewy bodies —clumps of matter within the brain cells that mark Parkinson’s disease
- Alpha-synuclein, which is found in Lewy bodies
Aside from these elements, there are also a number of risk factors that can predispose an individual to Parkinson’s disease.
Certain risk factors can increase the risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, such as:
- Heredity – those with a close relative already diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease can heighten your risk of developing the condition
- Age – it’s rare for a younger person to have Parkinson’s disease; it typically begins later in life, usually around 60 years and above
- Sex – women are less likely than men to develop Parkinson’s disease
- Exposure to harmful chemicals – consistent exposure to pesticides and herbicides can increase the risk slightly
As the disease progresses, you may also start experiencing these complications:
- Cognitive problems
- Swallowing problems
- Sleep disorders
- Eating and swallowing issues
- Bladder control problems
- Slower digestive tract
- Blood pressure changes
- Smell dysfunction
- Sexual dysfunction
Parkinson’s disease is not fatal, but these complications can be serious and life-threatening. In fact, the CDC listed complications from Parkinson’s disease as the number 14 cause of death in the US.
Is there a cure to Parkinson’s Disease?
Not yet. Since the cause of Parkinson’s disease is still unknown, there are still no proven ways of prevention. However, treatment options are available, and this includes surgery and medications.
While there’s still no way to cure Parkinson’s disease, it’s possible to have an excellent quality of life even with the condition. Your neurologist in Leesburg can help you create a plan that includes therapy, lifestyle changes, and dopaminergic medications to manage the symptoms. The key is to start treatment as early as possible, and that begins by scheduling a consultation with your neurologist as soon as you observe these symptoms in you or your loved ones.