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Parkinsons's disease is a nervous system disease that attacks the nerves in your brain that manufacture the chemical dopamine. It is a disease that progresses very slowly in most patients, with most patients living 20-plus years with the disease after diagnosis. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is considered a “neurodegerative” disease, as it slowly affects the brain.

The chemical dopamine, what PD primarily affects, is vital in the process of controlling the body’s movement. In the case of Parkinsons, the brain gradually loses its control over the bodies movements and the person with Parkinsons will find it increasingly difficult to move their body around the way they would like to. Parkinsons disease is seen more frequently in people ages 60 and above, and the risk continues as people age. In addition, men are also more likely to develop Parkinsons, along with those that have many relatives that have been diagnosed with the disease.

There still has not been an universally accepted cause for Parkinsons disease, despite continuous research. There are a couple theories floating around as to what the cause is, including what some scientists believe that is has to do with stress, while others believe that is has to do with a type of toxin in the environment. Genetics also have been thought to come into play, but there has not been a direct link between a specific gene, as certain gene mutations have been shown to only increase one’s chances of having the gene, not directing causing it. Despite being somewhat genetic, it has never been shown to be contagious.

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, there is one current theory that is becoming widely accepted. This theory, named the “Braak’s hypothesis,” believes that there are early stages of PD found in the medulla (which controls the sense of smell). This theory believes that, before affecting movement, other sense such as smell, and issues such as constipation and sleep disorder, are much earlier signs of PD before the commonly diagnosed tremors.

        • Tremors: These usually begin in limbs, like hands or fingers, and are active even when the hand is not voluntarily moved.
        • Rigidty: which is the sudden locking up or stiffness of muscles
        • Slowness of Movement: This symptom develops over time, and is often a latter symptom of Parkinson’s. Many of those with PD find simpler movements taking more effort and time, such as walking or rising from a chair.
        • Posture Failure: which in turn leads to difficulty in walking and balance

Although there is no current cure, there are various medicines and treatments to help alleviate symptoms. A common medicine prescribed to those with Parkinsons incudes an artificial dopamine supplement. Doctors also will often prescribe a drug-combination to fight both symptoms and the progression of the disease on the brain. Although a surgery is offered, “deep brain stimulation,” for most patients an adequate drug treatment process is all that is needed to maintain a somewhat normal life. Ultimately, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis and quality of life for the patient. Most patient’s life expectancies, if developed later in life, are as long as they would be without the disease. Quality of life, however, will lessen with age as the symptoms become more prominent.

Web Resources:
Related Terminology:
        • Alzheimers Disease
        • Epilepsy
        • Dementia

Online Resources

Works Cited
"Parkinson Disease Treatment & Management." Parkinson Disease Treatment & Management. MedScape, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

"Parkinson's Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment - Freshjinks." Freshjinks. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

"Parkinson's Disease." Symptoms. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.

"What Is Parkinson's Disease?" National Parkinson Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.