Every year on April 11, World Parkinson’s Day is observed to mark the birth anniversary of Dr James Parkinson, who was the first person to identify Parkinson’s as a medical condition. He also published an article ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy’ in 1817. The World Health Organization describes Parkinson’s disease as “a degenerative condition of the brain associated with motor symptoms (slow movement, tremor, rigidity, and imbalance) and other complications including cognitive impairment, mental health disorders, sleep disorders and pain and sensory disturbances.” Global estimates in 2019 showed over 8.5 million individuals with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) globally, says WHO.
On World Parkinson’s Day 2023, Dr Sanjay Pandey, Head, Department of Neurology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, spoke about PD, its symptoms, causes, and more.
World Parkinson’s Day 2023: Parkinson’s Disease And Symptoms
Dr Sanjay Pandey shares that Parkinson’s Disease is a combination of symptoms where the patients suffer from slow body movement, tremors, rigidity, and a tendency to fall either on one side or the other. Patients experience difficulty performing day-to-day activities like getting up from a chair, writing, or cooking.
The early symptoms of PD, says Dr Pandey, include:
- Slowness of body movements
- Rest tremor
As the disease progresses to its late stage, patients may experience:
- Speech problems
- Difficulty in turning and walking
- Memory problems
While talking about the age of the onset of PD, the doctor says, “Parkinson’s Disease affects during the 6th decade of life – between 50 and 60 years of age. Sometimes, it affects people under 50 years of age, and we call it an early onset of Parkinson’s Disease.”
Is Parkinson’s Linked To Diet?
Dr Pandey says that recent data has suggested Parkinson’s Disease is linked to diet. It can start in the stomach. “Consumption of dairy products is also linked to the disease. There is no clear evidence. The data are conflicting,” says Dr Pandey.
World Parkinson’s Day 2023: Is Parkinson’s Disease Preventable?
Dr Pandey lists out some important points:
1. PD can be delayed if the person is active and has active and regular routine motor activity. It cannot be prevented.
2. The onset of the disease can be delayed if we maintain a good lifestyle by doing activities like physical exercises.
3. Medications used for gastroenteritis and psychiatric conditions can lead to Parkinson’s Disease.
4. Many patients take medications for gastroenteritis, anxiety, and depression. Later on, they might develop Parkinson’s Disease. Drug-induced Parkinson’s Disease is very common and can be prevented if the patient is not taking these drugs.
World Parkinson’s Day 2023: Treatment For Parkinson’s Disease
There are surgical and medical treatments for Parkinson’s Disease. Medical treatment is the first line of treatment, and the majority of patients respond to the first line of treatment, says Dr Pandey, adding, “Carbidopa-Levodopa is used for the treatment of the disease. Other treatments are also available. That is to be decided by the medical practitioner. Sometimes, even after years of medical treatment, the patients do not respond. In that case, surgical treatment can be considered. Procedures like Deep Brain Stimulation are effective.”
Managing Parkinson’s Disease
In today’s time when an increasing number of older people have to fend for themselves, caregiving becomes a challenge. So can people living alone manage this disease on their own? Dr Pandey shares, “If the patient can take medication on time and follow the advice of the physician, they can manage their symptoms. But if the disease is in an advanced stage and the patients are in the wheel-chair bound state or cannot move around, it will be challenging to manage independently.”