Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes just barely noticeable at first. Tremors are common, but this disease also causes stiffness or slowing of movement in general. Symptoms may include:
- Rigid muscles
- Impaired posture
- Balance Issues
- Loss of automatic movements such as blinking, smiling, or swinging arms while walking
- Speech changes are common, and also change in handwriting.
Several factors play a role when diagnosing Parkinson’s, including genetics and environmental factors. Researchers have identified specific genetic mutations that can cause Parkinson’s- these are however uncommon except in rare cases where many family members are affected by the disease. Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of later Parkinson’s disease, but the risk is relatively small.
There are certain factors that increase risk for developing Parkinson’s Disease. The first is age. Parkinson’s disease usually occurs in patients in middle to late life, around age 60. Heredity is also a factor in assessing risk factors associated with PD. Having a close relative with the disease increases the chance that one will develop the disease. Men are more likely to develop the disease than women, and lastly, ongoing exposure to toxins such as herbicides and pesticides may slightly increase your risk.
Parkinson’s may cause additional problems, which may or may not be treatable. Cognitive difficulties, depression and emotional changes,even issues with chewing and swallowing will lead to choking and malnutrition. Sleep problems will emerge, with patients having trouble controlling their bladder at night. Constipation is also an issue in some patients, due to a slower digestive tract.
There are no real answers yet, even with all the research being done and that has been done in the past on how to prevent Parkinson’s Disease. There have been findings that have suggested that people who consume caffeinated beverages are less likely to get PD than those who don’t, but there is not enough evidence to confirm this theory.