By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
When you are sixty and over, you get shaky fingers (tremors), stiffening and slower movement in your legs (rigidity), and experience difficulties in attending to your personal affairs, you can be sure that you are a candidate with early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease affects your voice and smell, too
You are not alone, the incidence is increasing in most countries, approximately four people per 1000 in Australia, and over a million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease. The incidence in Sri Lanka is not known, but many people do live with it in most rural and town areas and some go undetected in the remote villages.
A male has a 50% higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease than a female.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
So, PD obviously cannot be cured but can be controlled, in most cases can live an independent productive life.
As the disease progresses one gets involuntary uncontrollable movements of every part of the body. It is an uncontrollable shake. The limbs get rigid due to muscle stiffness and as a consequence you slow down your movements. Walking becomes difficult and the posture becomes stooped. The walk becomes shuffling more than taking normal steps in walking. You become tired and lethargic and no inclination to do any work. Face becomes expressionless.
Factors lowering the risk of developing PD
Flavonoids: adult males who regularly eat foods rich in flavonoids appear to have less chances of developing PD.
Aldehydes in cooking oils: When certain cooking oils heated to a certain temperature and then used again aldehyde forms in the oil and this may be responsible for the degenerating of brain cells, even forming some cancers.
With time these dopaminonergic neurons (nerve cells) continue to disappear and the drugs tends to become ineffective at treating the symptoms. There are many medications available but none will reverse the effects of the disease
The choice of this drug treatment depends on many factors, and each patient is personally evaluated to check on which combination would be the best for such patients. Most doctors prescribe levodopa as the first line of treatment. Some are given an agonist, an MAO inhibitor or an anticholinergic.
You need to see a doctor during the early symptoms stage of the disease. Choices of drugs given during the early stages have a strong impact on the long term prognosis of the illness.
Anti-cholinergic drugs like Benztropine, Procyclidine, Orphenodrine and Amantadine are used singly or in combination with other drugs. These drugs have a slight effect on the clinical symptoms.
Levodopa-(Sinemet) - This would be the most potent medication for PD. This is really medication given in tablet form to replace the depleting chemical in the brain cells. Levodopa is transported to the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Levodopa is then converted into dopamine in the nerve cells. Dopamine functions as a neuro-transmitter at the nerve cell-nerve fibre junctions, or as we call synapses. The definition of synapses is a region where nerve impulses are transmitted and received.
There are long term side effects with Sinemet, such as- increase in involuntary movements, restlessness, confusion or abnormal movements.
Monoamine oxidase-B inhibitors (MAO B inhibitors). This drug is an alternative to levodopa. Examples include selegiline and rasagiline. These inhibitors work by blocking the effects of monoamine oxidase in the brain. Monoamine oxidase destroys dopamine.
Cutting Edge Stem Cell Therapy
These cells travel through the body detecting damaged cells and tissue and attempts to restore them. These cells also stimulate existing normal cells and tissues to operate at a higher level of function, boosting the body’s own repair mechanisms to aid in the healing process. It is said that commonly significant positive results are seen within 3-to six months. (Ref: stemcellofamerica.com)
Anxiety and depression
It was developed after 5 years’ R&D, and has been tested on patients with Parkinson’s disease.
With Agilitas as your personal walking companion, you can walk with confidence through doorways, kitchens and bathrooms, shopping centres and even busy train stations.
It can restore your freedom, independence and quality of life.
By using Agilitas you can reduce and eliminate the need for a cane, walker or wheelchair. You can lessen your reliance on carers, and be more confident that you will be able to quickly manage a “freeze” at home or in public.
This devise is not cheap. In Australia it costs about $2,000. The number to ring, if you are interested is 1800 91 31 41 with your credit card details.
Exercise and physio
With time when dopamine gets totally depleted in the brain cells and medications not effective, exercise would be the best course of action and most rewarding.
Massage, acupuncture or herbal remedies may help.
Conclusion: There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but their life could be made comfortable by the above temporising methods. Loving care is most important for these victims. Daily exercise is very important to mobile the joints and lessen rigidity of limbs.
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