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What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

December 20, 2021 In Paraquat

Parkinson’s disease is a central nervous system disorder that affects millions of people around the world. A progressive condition, Parkinson’s symptoms gradually worsen over time, harming patients’ ability to live independently and perform daily tasks.

This condition can have a major impact on your life. If you believe that you have Parkinson’s disease, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible.

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

While the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, these neurological symptoms suggest that dopamine depletion plays a large role in the development of this condition.

When a person has Parkinson’s disease, however, certain neurons in the brain begin to deteriorate and die. Many of these neurons are responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter.

When dopamine levels are reduced, abnormal brain activity can occur. Patients begin to experience impaired movement, tremors, and other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s Disease Risk Factors

Certain factors may raise people’s risk of Parkinson’s disease:

  • Heredity: Genetic mutations are typically carried within families with lots of people who Parkinson’s disease, increasing the risk of the condition.
  • Age: Older people are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. The condition usually develops around age 60.
  • Sex: Men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women. However, any person can be diagnosed with the condition.
  • Exposure to Toxins: Environmental triggers may contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease. For example, Paraquat is a popular herbicide widely used in the United States. Significant research shows that Paraquat exposure can raise people’s risk of Parkinson’s disease by 200-600%.

Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Medical professionals classify Parkinson’s disease into five stages based on symptom severity. As the condition worsens over time, it becomes increasingly more difficult for people to perform daily tasks without assistance:

  • Stage 1: This is the first and mildest stage of Parkinson’s disease. Movement symptoms like tremors typically affect one side of the body. Daily activities are not impacted.
  • Stage 2: Symptoms begin to worsen in Stage 2, affecting both sides of the body. While Stage 2 patients are still able to live alone, they may find it more difficult to complete daily tasks.
  • Stage 3: Patients begin to experience loss of balance and slowed movements in Stage 3. While people remain independent, they may face significant impairments while performing certain activities.
  • Stage 4: Symptoms are very severe and limiting in Stage 4, necessitating assistance for most daily activities. Patients are unable to live alone and may require a walker to move.
  • Stage 5: This is the most advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease. Patients often experience severe stiffness in the legs as well as psychological symptoms, like delusions. Stage 5 patients require around-the-clock care.

Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease symptoms begin slowly and worsen as the patient progresses. Although many people associate Parkinson’s disease with tremors and other movement symptoms, the condition can impact more than mobility. In fact, many patients experience non-motor symptoms like fatigue, pain, and hallucinations.

Movement Symptoms

Motor symptoms affect a patient’s ability to move and perform daily tasks. There are several movement symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, including drooling, muscle cramping, and sudden changes in speech.

However, medical professionals often look for three hallmark motor symptoms to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. These telltale signs include the following:

  • Bradykinesia: Parkinson’s disease patients often find it more and more difficult to complete simple tasks. This is due to bradykinesia or slowed movement. For example, a patient may notice that it takes longer to walk because he or she is taking smaller steps. Getting out of a chair or bed, putting on clothes, or eating may also become prolonged.
  • Tremors: Tremors and shaking are some of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The shaking typically begins on one side of the body, affecting a limb such as the hands and fingers. The tremors then worsen over time and impact both sides of the body.
  • Rigidity: Parkinson’s disease patients experience severe muscle rigidity and stiffness, leading to pain during movement. Muscle rigidity impacts a patients’ range of motion, making it difficult to perform daily tasks.

Non-Movement Symptoms

Not all symptoms of Parkinson’s disease affect mobility. Many patients experience cognitive changes, psychological trauma, and other types of non-movement symptoms. These symptoms manifest in different ways among individual patients.

Examples of non-motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease include the following:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Constipation
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Sleep disorders, including insomnia
  • Psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety
  • Cognitive conditions, such as dementia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling full after eating small amounts
  • Lightheadedness when standing
  • Sexual dysfunction

While motor symptoms can severely impact daily life, non-movement symptoms can be even more debilitating. Significant physical and psychological pain and suffering can occur.

How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?

If you believe that you have Parkinson’s disease, it is important to visit a doctor as soon as possible. While no specific test is available to diagnose this condition, a medical professional with experience treating nervous system conditions will conduct an evaluation and determine if you have Parkinson’s disease.

Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms, focusing on tremors, muscle stiffness, and slowed movements. He or she may order other tests, such as blood labs and MRI exams, to rule out the presence of other conditions.

How Is Parkinson’s Disease Treated?

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Your doctor may prescribe medications to manage movement symptoms involving walking and tremors and increase the level of dopamine in the brain. You may also undergo a surgery called deep brain stimulation, which sends electrical pulses to your brain to relieve Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Certain lifestyle changes may also alleviate some of the effects of Parkinson’s. A healthy diet, regular exercise can help you receive vital nutrients and increase your muscle strength. Occupational therapy can also help you learn valuable skills to alleviate daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, and bathing.

Speak to a Lawyer About Parkinson’s Disease

Significant research suggests that Paraquat, a popular herbicide, may raise people’s risk of Parkinson’s disease. If you were diagnosed with this condition after Paraquat exposure, you may be eligible for a lawsuit against the chemical’s manufacturers.

Through your claim, you can recover a settlement to pay for medical care, lost wages, and other losses related to your Parkinson’s disease. As soon as possible following your diagnosis, speak to a Paraquat lawyer to discuss your case and legal options.