Parkinson’s disease causes are mostly associated with genetic mutation and exposure of body to various drugs and toxins. The reasons are elaborated in the following content. You shall also find out the symptoms and the diagnostic methods for the disease. Read on…
Parkinson’s disease is a widespread disorder affecting the lives of many. This degenerative disorder of the Central Nervous System is mostly prevalent in people above the age of 60. The following segment will elaborate the causes, symptoms, stages and diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Before going into the depths of Parkinson’s disease prognosis, let’s first study the anatomy of the brain. The portion of the brain, known as basal ganglia is responsible for controlling the movements of the body. It contains two types of cells that produce the chemicals dopamine and acetylcholine. A proper balance between these two substances regulate the transmission of nerve impulses.
The causes of Parkinson’s disease are associated with degeneration of cells that produce dopamine. A research based study has shown that people suffering from Parkinson’s disease have lost 80 percent or more dopamine producing cells.
The exact cause of degeneration of nerve cells is still unknown to doctors. However, they have put forth certain reasons, that are the possible explanations for this disorder.
The brain cells, known as substantia nigra, produce dopamine. Dopamine, is a chemical messenger that transmits signal to the ‘relay station’ of the brain, known as corpus striatum from the substantia nigra. This activity results in movement of smooth muscles. It’s an idiopathic disorder but the conditions that trigger the symptoms can be genetic or induced by chemicals like toxins and drugs. Other factors like cerebral anoxia and head trauma also lead to abnormalities that may be the causative factors of Parkinson’s disease.
Genetic mutations in PTEN-induced putative kinase1 (PINK 1), Alpha-synuclein (SNCA), Ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1), Leucine-rich repeat kinase2 (LRRK2), Probable cation-transporting ATPase 13A2 (ATP 13A2) and Parkin (PARK2) are the main reasons behind Parkinson’s disease. Research on the Parkinson’s disease causes has found out that the activity of these genes controls the movements of muscles. Vulnerability of the body to various toxins like pesticides, carbon monoxide, carbon disulfide and manganese cause selective destruction of dopaminergic neurons, giving rise to Parkinson’s disease.
One of the most believed reasons behind this abnormality is oxidative stress. In this case, the free radicals released by oxidation process, instead of pairing with electrons react with other molecules like iron, that elevates the number of free radicals inside the brain. As a result, the capability of the brain to eliminate free radicals decreases. Excess of free radicals that damage the brain cells is one of the most probable causes of Parkinson’s disease. Head trauma and hemorrhage might also damage proper functioning of brain nerves.
Clumps of certain specific substances called Lewy bodies are present within brain cells and researchers believe that these may hold a cue towards solving the mystery about the causes of Parkinson’s. However, research is still being done in this regards.
The symptoms differ according to the stages of the disorder. The abnormalities are mostly associated with movements in body and sense of perception. Some of the most common symptoms are enlisted below:
- Body tremors that are involuntary in action.
- Rapid blinking of eyes.
- Very slow movements transcending to complete loss of movements.
- Pain in muscles and joints.
- Trembling of hands while performing any activity with hands.
- Loss of balance while walking or standing.
- Involuntary drooling and trouble in swallowing.
- Slurry speech in the later stages.
- In the last stage, hallucinations, dementia, memory loss and confusions become more prominent.
Depending upon the severity of the symptoms, the abnormality is classified into 5 stages. In the first stage, a person experiences, minor tremors in body parts, particularly in hands. Some unusual changes are observed in facial expressions and a person may find it difficult to perform movements with ease. In stage two, bilateral symptoms affecting movements of the limbs become more prominent. The person loses his balance and faces extreme trouble while walking. Retardation of physical movements marked by dependence on others is a characteristic of the third stage.
In the fourth stage, severe tremors disappear and the person becomes severely impaired. The fifth stage is the most critical amongst all the Parkinson’s disease stages. The person becomes totally bed ridden and needs nursing and care for sustenance. He is not able to perform any task spontaneously and eventually, memory loss occurs.
Neurodegenerative disorders are mostly diagnosed by clinical techniques like, MRI, CT Scan, Electroencephalograms (EEGs) records, etc. But these tests are not effective in spotting Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, the diagnosis is based on studying the medical history. Neurological examination is also an essential criterion of diagnosis. Observing the symptoms based on family history is a way to detect this disorder. Observing the cardinal motor symptoms also form the basis of diagnosis. Response to levodopa during the first 5 years is a standard detection method for the abnormalities. The life expectancy is dependent upon the time of identification and accurate diagnosis of the symptoms following right medication, to abate tremors and further damage to neurons.
Till today, there is no treatment that can completely cure this disease. The diagnosis is based on the causes, and early medication is effective to control the progression of the disease into a critical stage. This is the sole way to increase the life expectancy of people suffering Parkinson’s disease.