What is Parkinson’s Disease? Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis

What is Parkinson Disease?

A disease that progressively affects the nervous system, thereby distorting movements is given the name Parkinson’s Disease. An illness that attacks the part of the brain responsible for controlling movements of the body. The disease develops too slow to notice it’s symptoms. You might feel some tremors, but they are common, however, if you notice stiffness or slow movement, then it’s high time you visit a doctor.

The early stages of the disease do not depict any major expression. As time passes, you would find difficulty in walking, you cannot swing your hands, your thinking ability reduces, and your speech turns soft and slurred. Though there is no proven cure for the disease, yet simple tweak in the daily routine a little care can help prevent the aftermath of the disease. A doctor visit would suggest you take necessary precautions and also regulate few parts of your brain to improve the condition.

Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease 

Parkinson’s Disease symptoms differ from person to person. While you have one someone else might have something different. Also, the fact that the early symptoms of the disease are largely mild and sometimes go unnoticed. In the early stages of the disease, the disease affects the only one side of the body, however as it fuels up the body, you will start noticing the effect on both sides of the body.

1. Tremors:

The first sign or symptom of the Parkinson’s Disease is a feeling of tremor in the limbs, primarily finger, and hands. It might also happen that you rub your forefinger or thump to and fro and is referred to as pill-rolling tremor. Hand tremor is common when you’re at rest.

2. Slow Movement:

As the disease gradually progresses, you would notice your movement going slow and you find difficulty in walking. Simple errands become tough for you and consume much more time than earlier. You start taking shorter steps and sometimes find it hard to move out from the chair. Dragging your feet is another symptom that indicates Parkinson’s Disease.

3. Poor Balance and Posture:

Another alarming symptom of Parkinson’s Disease is your posture and balance. A sudden change in your posture or finding it difficult to hold your steps point towards the increase in the intensity of the disease.

4. Increase In Muscle Rigidity:

Though tremor and shake is common, but once you start witnessing stiffness in your muscles, you should no longer avoid it. It can occur in any part of your body. The stiffness could be intense and also painful.

5. Decreased Ability To Move Automatically:

All the unconscious activities turn hard to perform. Blinking, smiling or even moving or arms need an extra effort.

6. Impaired Speech:

The most significant symptoms of the disease is a loss of speech. Your voice gets slurred, and you speak softly and hesitate too. It appears to be more of monotone and not prompt action.

Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease 

Knowing all about the symptoms of the disease, now it’s time to have a look at what are the causes behind the growth of such a disease. The prime reason being the breakdown of certain neurons in the brain that eventually dies. The brain produces a chemical known as Dopamine and when the brain fails to produce the same or lose the neuron that facilitates the production of the chemical, Parkinson’s Disease tend to develop. Parkinson’s Disease is directly related to the impaired activities of the brain which is caused due to the decline in production of the chemical Dopamine.

Though the major reason remains unknown, few of the factor that leads to the disease include:

  • Genes: Several medical experts state that specific mutations in genes lead to the development of Parkinson’s Disease. Though this is very rare and happens only when the person has a family history of the disease.
  • Environmental Effect: Sometimes it so happens that few activities of the surrounding trigger the brain of few people and enhances the risk of Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Reduction in Dopamine Level: The major cause behind the rise in the risk of Parkinson’s Disease is the decline in the level of Dopamine in the brain. The part of the brain that develops the chemicals start to break and down die causes a decline in the dopamine level and hence increases the risk of Parkinson’s Disease. When the cell dies, the dopamine levels fall and this in a way impairs the brain activity of all. However, the reason behind the death of the cells is unknown.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease 

There is no certified test to confirm the presence of Parkinson’s Disease. Doctors look at your symptoms and family history to deduce whether or not you have Parkinson’s Disease. Though it takes time but only after intense scrutiny will the doctor assure you about the disease. Each symptom is carefully examined to rule out diseases similar to the Parkinson’s Disease with similar symptoms. It is always advisable that you visit a doctor having experience in treating the disease because the symptoms are so minute that one can easily skip diagnosing the same.

Few doctors opt for imaging tests as SPECT scan known as Dopamine transporter scan. Note that this can only support the doubt of the disease. Confirmation is given only after neurological examination by the doctor. Blood tests are done to rule out doubt of another disease. Also, tests such as MRI, CT Scan, PET and ultrasound is done to rule out significant other disorders with similar symptoms.

After examining all the symptoms, if the doctor is convinced that you have the disease then, he will use the scale of Hoehn and Yahr to determine the stage you are in. The scale has segregation of one to five where one is the lowest stage and five the most serious condition. Knowing the stage of disease, it becomes easier to seek symptom and also determine where the disease is heading towards. However, the intensity varies dramatically. Few people experience rapid growth of the disease whereas few take twenty years to reach the serious stage from the mild stage.

Treatment Of Parkinson’s Disease 

Parkinson’s Disease is incurable. However, if you take certain measures and medication, you can prevent the disease to flare. In extreme cases, a doctor suggests opting for surgery. It is advisable that if diagnosed in early stages, try to take the preventive measure to stay on the safer side. Doctors advise to make dramatic changes in your life, the most important being the incorporation of Aerobics in your day to day life.

Sometimes going for a physical therapy helps you monitor your posture, balance and also stretches. For speech related problems, a speech pathologist might help you improve slurred voice.


For problems related to tremor, shake and impaired movement, doctors prescribe medications to cure better. All the medication either substitute the growth of Dopamine or at least boost its productivity. The major cause of the Parkinson’s Disease is a decline in Dopamine levels, and it is that substance which cannot be given directly as it does not enter the brain. After taking several medicines and the said preventive measures, you will notice improvements. But as time passes, the effect of the drugs also diminishes.

Several Medicine Includes:

  • Amantadine
  • MAO B inhibitors
  • Carbidopa-levodopa
  • Dopamine agonists
  • Carbidopa-levodopa infusion
  • Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors.
  • Anticholinergics


In severe cases, doctor advice the patient to go for a Deep Brain Stimulation. In this surgery, electrodes are implanted by the surgeon in specific parts of the brain. These electrodes are internally connected to an implanted generator in your chest near the collaborane that transmits electrical pulse to the brain, thereby reducing the impact of Parkinson’s Disease. Doctors adjust the device as per the need of the patient. It is however said that the disease induces greater risk as brain stroke, infections or haemorrhage. Few people experience problems with this surgery however if everything goes smoothly, then the surgery is highly effective in owning control over the response and fluctuations levodopa. This is achieved only by surgery.

Home Remedies for Parkinson’s Disease

Apart from medication and surgery, the best and the most effective way to control or treat the disease in its early stages is a change in lifestyle. A simple tweak in your day to day life help you combat the disease and make the living lot easier

Once you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, your doctor would suggest a few changes and few incorporations in your daily routine that not just provide relief but also has fewer side effects.

Few of the changes include:

  • Healthy Eating: There are no foods that increase the effect of the disease. However few of them help reduce the effect of the disease and soothe symptoms. Parkinson’s cause constipation, hence eating food rich in fiber and drinking plenty of food can help prevent the same.
  • Exercising: The best way to keep yourself fit and healthy is to workout. Also, exercising helps flexibility, reduce stress and anxiety.  Your doctor may suggest a workout program that would benefit you.
  • Staying away from falls: As the disease progress you are expected to be more prone to falling and so avoid lifting weights, taking U-turns etc.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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