It can be devastating to learn that you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. However, you may have the opportunity to take control of your health and manage your future well in time. There are actionable tips recommended by experts to help you gain control of your health in time. But first, it’s important to learn a little about this disease.
What is Parkinson’s disease, and how can it be treated?
Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which a portion of your brain becomes damaged, leading to severe symptoms. Although this condition is most well-known for its effects on muscle control, balance, and movement, it can also have a variety of other effects on your senses and thinking abilities, mental health, and much more. The severity of the disease depends on many factors like age, behaviour, etc.
Who does Parkinson’s disease affect?
Parkinson’s disease is a natural progression of age, and the average age it begins at is 60 years. It is slightly more common among men than in women. Although Parkinson’s disease is often a result of ageing, it can also occur in people as young as 20. However, this is rare; people can have a parent or a sibling with the same condition.
Is this a common condition?
Parkinson’s disease ranks second among age-related brain diseases and is also the most common motor brain disease (movement-related). According to experts, it affects approximately 1% of all people over 60 years.
What does this condition mean for the body?
Parkinson’s disease can cause a certain area of your brain called the basal ganglia to deteriorate. You lose the ability to control this area as it becomes less functional. Research has shown that Parkinson’s disease can cause a significant shift in brain chemistry.
Normal circumstances call for neurotransmitters, chemicals that control how brain cells (neurons) communicate with one another. Parkinson’s disease can cause a shortage of dopamine, one of the most important neurotransmitters.
Your brain sends activation signals to your muscles, telling them to move. It fine-tunes your movements by using cells that need dopamine. This is why a lack of dopamine causes Parkinson’s disease symptoms such as slow movements and tremors. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease get worse and more severe as the disease progresses. The condition can cause depression and dementia-like symptoms in later stages.
Experts Recommend 7 Things You Should Do Right Away
1. Talk to a Specialist
You should see a specialist for movement disorders if you haven’t already. This is especially important if you have persistent symptoms not subsided by your current treatments. A specialist in movement disorders will stay abreast with the latest therapies and treatments. A specialist will be able to provide the most comprehensive knowledge and scope of Parkinson’s disease. Research has shown that a specialist in movement disorders care can extend your life expectancy and help you avoid the more severe stages of Parkinson’s disease.
2. Give yourself time to adjust
You should take your time and allow the diagnosis to sink in. While you will eventually become an expert on Parkinson’s disease, right now, you are still a novice. Next, educate yourself: Talk to your doctor about the information you can take home, talk to other people living with Parkinson’s disease, and most importantly, don’t panic.
3. Be Honest
You don’t need to tell everyone immediately; however, you should avoid hiding your diagnosis. Your long-term well-being will depend on how open you are with your friends, family members, and colleagues. If you don’t already, schedule regular time with your significant other to discuss how things are going. Also, what do you both need? Adult children are important members of your family. Be open with them about your diagnosis. Your children, especially young ones, need to know that the disease does not spread, that it is not contagious, and that they have no responsibility for it. These are conversations that should lead the way.
4. Boost Activity
Do not wait until your symptoms get more severe before you start to treat them with physical therapy and exercise. Your chances of being active for longer will increase if you change how you live now. You can make active pursuits such as biking, hiking, swimming, and other types of exercise a part of your everyday life if you haven’t done so already. Boxing, yoga, and even Argentine tango are all options for Parkinson’s patients to look out for. These activities help to build a reserve against the possibility of losing physical function as the disease progresses. People with Parkinson’s will experience a loss in muscle mass, motor speed, and coordination. It is common for everyone to age, and it’s a good idea to have a base of fitness and conditioning to do much for yourself in the future.
5. Stay engaged
One can compare mental and social engagement to physical fitness. Either you use it, or you gradually lose it. Travel with your family and friends, and join clubs. Depending on your career stage, staying at work can give you a sense of purpose and allow you to engage with others.
However, if your work is too physically demanding, you may consider retiring, so you can spend more time on activities that keep you mentally active.
6. Follow Your Symptoms
Pay attention to how your body reacts when taking Parkinson’s disease medication or other treatments. You should also pay attention to how you feel during certain times of day and after particular activities. It is especially important when taking a new medication or adjusting the dose. Your doctor will need to know what is working for you. Use whatever system you find most useful: a chart or notebook, a file on your laptop, a spreadsheet, or any other method.
7. Research is important
Participating in research will help you improve your physical and mental health (if you are selected for a trial for a promising new treatment). Still, you may also be better off participating in something that may benefit other Parkinson’s patients. There will be a sense that your life has a purpose and something for you to do. Additionally, you may be able to get additional medical care from researchers or doctors. You also have the advantage of being able to network with other patients.
What happens if you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s?
As the name suggests, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that causes movement problems. A slight tremor in one hand is the first sign of the disorder, sometimes accompanied by barely noticeable symptoms. Common tremors occur with this disorder, but it is also common to experience stiffness or a slowing down of movement.
Is Parkinson’s treatable if caught early?
Although Parkinson’s disease still does not have a cure, medications may be able to assist in managing the symptoms. Surgical intervention may be necessary in some cases. Lifestyle changes can also be helpful, especially at the beginning of the disease.
How quickly does Parkinson’s progress?
This never goes away, and the condition’s progress usually takes place over a long period, over a few months, or even several years. In many cases, many people with Parkinson’s disease will experience symptoms for over a year or two before a diagnosis is ever made.