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Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition distinguished by a reduction in dopamine levels in specific sections of the brain. Signs of the disease include tremor, tautness and the inflexibility of the muscles as well as sluggishness of movement. This paper is a response meant to educate a patient diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease on the causes and treatment of the disease.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease arises when brain nerve cells that regulate body movement are gradually damaged. These cells (neurons) often create a crucial chemical referred to as dopamine, which acts as a messenger and transmits signals to different areas of the brain from the substantia nigra (Jankovic & Tolosa, 2007).
When the neurons are damaged, there is a shortage of dopamine, which leads to difficulty in movement. The disease is also linked to clumps in the brain known as Lewy bodies, which are protein in nature. These clumps inhibit the normal brain functioning.
Although a few cases of Parkinson’s can be traced from inherited genes, most cases appear sporadically. Most studies show that Parkinson’s disease is caused by environmental and genetic factors (National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions, 2006). Exposure to toxins such as pesticides influences the rate of progress of the disease.
Though there is no specific cure for Parkinson’s disease, certain medications offer substantial relief from the symptoms. The prescriptions for Parkinson’s disease are grouped under three basic categories, which include drugs that boost dopamine levels, drugs that affect neurotransmitters and drugs that relieve symptoms not evident in movement (Ronken & Scharrenburg, 2002).
The patient can be administered with levodopa, which helps in the regeneration of dopamine. Levodopa is taken together with a drug called carbidopa. Carbidopa postpones the transformation of levodopa into dopamine up until it gets to the brain to reduce any side-effects of levodopa. Levodopa enables the patient to live a reasonably normal life for an extended period of time and lowers the tremors as well as other mobility complications.
Like many other degenerative diseases, Parkinson’s disease is not easily treatable. However, there are medications and therapies that alleviate the symptoms associated with the disease enabling the patient to live a normal life.
Jankovic, J. & Tolosa, E. (2007). Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders. Philadelphia, USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions. (2006). Parkinson’s disease: National clinical guideline for diagnosis and management in primary and secondary care. London: Royal College of Physicians.
Ronken, E. & Scharrenburg, J. M. (2002). Parkinson’s disease. Amsterdam: IOS Press.