Parkinson’s awareness month
As we enter April, we would like to educate our WorldCare members on this month’s medical awareness topic, Parkinson’s. What is it like to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s and how do you handle a diagnosis like this? Below is some helpful information about the disease from a WorldCare Consortium™ medical second opinion provider, Mayo Clinic.
So what exactly is Parkinson’s? Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Many patients who have been diagnosed with the disease miss the early signs; this is due to the gradual onset of the disease. Symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but commonly patients will begin to exhibit minimal facial expression and barely noticeable tremors in one hand. If you display any of the below signs, you may be at risk of Parkinson’s:
• Tremor– tends to begin in a limb, usually in your finger where you may notice uncontrollable rolling of your thumb and forefinger back-and-forth and may notice these tremors when your hand is at rest.
• Decreased mobility– as Parkinson’s progresses you will notice difficulty in regular movements such as getting out of a chair, reduced ability to perform unconscious movements, stiffness of muscles, shorter steps when walking and difficulty raising your foot when walking.
• Impaired posture– you may encounter balance issues and your posture may become stooped.
• Writing difficulty– you may notice difficulty in writing, your handwriting may appear smaller than usual.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is recommended you contact your doctor for an evaluation.
What exactly causes Parkinson’s you may ask? That answer is not exactly black and white. To simplify the explanation as to what causes it – it is the depletion of neurons that break down or die resulting in the gradual reduction of dopamine. When this occurs, it causes abnormal brain activity leading to the above symptoms. However, the direct cause of the disease is unknown. Some factors play a role but can’t be 100 percent attributed to the disease, these factors include:
• Genetics– though uncommon, genetics can play a factor. Researchers have identified the genetic mutation that can cause the disease. The more family members who have been diagnosed with the disease, may increase your chances for also getting the disease.
• Environmental triggers– exposure to toxins such as herbicide, pesticides and environmental factors raise a small risk in developing the disease.
• Age– risk factors increase with age, the risk of the disease starts middle to late in life but mostly around the age of 60 and above.
• Sex– males encounter the disease more than women according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) men have 2:1 chance of developing the disease.
Preventing Parkinson’s can be troublesome because researches have not found the direct cause of the disease and there is no proven way of preventing the onset of the disease. Some research does suggest that increased aerobic exercise, caffeinated beverages and green tea may decrease your risk of developing Parkinson’s, but there is currently not enough research to guarantee those measures are effective.
If you are a WorldCare member and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and would like a medical second opinion, contact WorldCare today.