About 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year in the United States.
The disease takes a physical, emotional, mental and even financial toll. In just the United States, the disease costs $52 billion annually, between lost wages, treatments and other costs.
Parkinson’s disease impairs movement in several ways and can have dangerous side effects like choking or falling down. Here are three things you should know about Parkinson’s disease:
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is commonly associated with tremors, but there is much more to this neurological disease. In patients with Parkinson’s disease, the brain does not get as much dopamine as it should, so it can’t control body movements correctly. It is unknown what causes Parkinson’s disease, so there is also no known way to prevent it. It often emerges in people over age 50, though it can occur in younger people.
What are the signs?
The well-known tremors are a common symptom of Parkinson’s, as are other movement problems like slow movement and an unstable posture. It also can be difficult to walk and even speak as the disease progresses. These symptoms can be signs of other conditions as well, but they are important indicators that Parkinson’s disease should be considered.
“While symptoms associated with movement can be more obvious, Parkinson’s disease can also cause less visible effects like loss of smell and depression,” says Jim Geddie, administrator at Temecula Healthcare Center. “Be sure to talk to your doctor about all symptoms you experience so you can get appropriate treatment.”
How is Parkinson’s disease treated?
Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be treated in a number of ways. Some medications can help with movement problems either by providing more dopamine to the brain or by imitating the effects of dopamine. Exercise can also improve balance and strength to help manage symptoms. Surgery also can be performed to implant a device that stimulates the brain. Other options, such as medical marijuana and additional surgeries, also are being studied. Many patients might need a few different treatments to address symptoms.
Parkinson’s disease can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life. Although it can’t be cured, there are promising treatments and continuing research on the disease. Talk with your doctor about the most effective way to address your symptoms.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.