Parkinson’s Disease Should You Know Facts or Myths – Symptoms begin gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Shaking is common, but it also often causes stiffness or slow movement.
At first, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may be mild and go unnoticed. Symptoms often start on one side of the body and usually remain worse on that side, even if they start to affect both sides.
The more detailed symptoms shown include tremors, slowed movements (bradykinesia), stiff muscles, disturbed posture and balance, speech changes such as slurred speech, and changes in the form of writing such as small writing.
A lot of information about Parkinson’s disease is circulating. However, we need to be careful in choosing information that comes from facts so that we don’t get confused in our attitude and understanding of this disease.
The following are health myths surrounding Parkinson’s disease along with an explanation of the facts summarized from Johns Hopkins Medicine, Health Grades, and the Mayo Clinic.
1. “Parkinson’s is only a motor condition”
While it is true that the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include trembling or tremors, muscle stiffness, slow movement, and a frozen or flat expression, the symptoms do not stop there.
For some patients, non-motor symptoms are thought to be more disabling than motor symptoms that are the focus of treatment. For that, be sure to discuss with your doctor so that all symptoms can be handled properly.
2. “Everyone with Parkinson’s disease experiences tremors”
which is a neurological based movement disorder. However, about one fifth of people with this disease never experience tremors (and many people with tremors do not have Parkinson’s disease).
Other common symptoms include slow movement, stiff muscles, and difficulty balancing. In an advanced stage, the patient may have difficulty speaking or swallowing due to weakness in the facial and throat muscles and may not be able to stand or walk on their own.
3. “Most cases of Parkinson’s disease run in families”
In fact, about 15 to 25 percent of Parkinson’s patients have a family member with the disease. Doctors found that several genes and gene mutations appeared to be linked to the disorder.
However, most patients do not have a family history. Doctors suspect this neurodegenerative disease may be triggered by interactions between genes and environmental factors, such as exposure to insecticides and herbicides. Environmental conditions such as rural life and drinking well water are among the risk factors.
4. “Parkinson’s only affects the elderly”
Although the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease increases with age (the mean age of onset is 60 years). However, the fact is that this disease can also be experienced by all ages.
Some people get it under 20 years of age (this is called adolescent-onset Parkinson’s disease) and others under 50 years (young-onset Parkinson’s disease). Actor Michael J Fox and basketball player Brian Grant are examples of cases diagnosed in their 30s.
About 5 to 10 percent of Parkinson’s patients are diagnosed under the age of 50.
5. “Treatment for Parkinson’s disease can cure all physical symptoms.”
Drugs that restore dopamine (the brain transmitter lost in Parkinson’s disease) help most patients with tremor and stiffness symptoms, but cannot improve problems such as walking or overall balance.
Some patients may get side effects from medications that cause other involuntary movements, such as twitching and tics, called dyskinesias.