Even with Parkinson’s disease having quite idiosyncratic features, it is a relatively difficult disease to diagnose, especially in its early stages. There are no specific tests which doctors can do to positively a diagnose Parkinson’s disease and in particular in it’s early stages it can be mistaken for other diseases. If and when this happens, it delays or prevents the proper treatment being given in the quickest possible time. The problem with diagnosing Parkinson’s disease accurately is simply that the symptoms are not always as conclusive as doctors would like them to be.
Once your neurologist has made a positive diagnosis of Parkinsons disease, he or she will consider treatments for the disease based on the apparent stage of Parkinsons present. The five stages of Parkinsons disease offered by the Hoehn and Yahr scale are distinguished by the degree of disability and the severity of the symptoms. Stage I Unilateral disease In Stage I Parkinsons disease, the symptoms and movement disorders are restricted to one side of the body.
A test that can give a definite diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease does not exist. Commonly, your family doctor will refer you to a neurologist if your symptoms suggest Parkinson’s disease. A neurologist will assess your symptoms and their acuteness and make a provisional diagnosis. One of the most common diagnostic methods for Parkinsons is to prescribe anti-Parkinsons drugs for you to take and monitor your response. Most doctors consider a positive improvement of symptoms when you take medication to combat the symptoms to be positive proof that you have Parkinsons disease.
Around 50% of people with Parkinsons disease are also diagnosed with clinical depression. In many of them, the depression may occur months or years before Parkinsons is diagnosed. While the anxiety and physical problems associated with having Parkinsons disease are stressful and frustrating, most doctors agree that the depression that often accompanies Parkinsons isnt a reaction to the diagnosis. Instead, they believe it is due to the changes in the brain that the disease causes.
Acetylcholine is a chemical messenger made by your nerves. Some medicines that are used to treat various neurological conditions work by stopping acetylcholine from doing its job. Acetylcholine (ACh) was first identified in 1914 by Henry Hallett Dale for its actions on heart tissue. It was confirmed as a neurotransmitter by Otto Loewi. Both received the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work. Later work showed that acetylcholine binding to acetylcholine receptors on striated muscle fibers, opened channels in the membrane.
The earliest symptom of Parkinsons Disease is most often limb tremors, particularly when the body is at rest. For most people diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease, their first warning comes when a leg suddenly starts shaking while theyre laying in bed, and wont stop. The tremor can involve a hand, a foot, a leg or an arm. It usually affects only one side of the body at first, and it may be years before it affects any more than that one limb.
One of the newer treatments for Parkinsons disease is a surgical procedure that implants a thin, metal electrode into one of several spots in the brain and attaches it to a computerized pulse generator similar to a heart pacemaker. The treatment is called Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS for short, and its one of the most promising treatments for long term control of the worst symptoms of Parkinsons. According to a recent study that followed 79 patients whod had bilateral (both sides) DBS performed for two years after the surgery, DBS
The drug levodopa, also known as L-dopa, has been used since the 1960s as the primary drug treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. Levodopa is a natural substance that is found in both plants and animals. The compound is actually a precursor to dopamine, and unlike dopamine, it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. As a result, when given to people with Parkinson’s, levodopa is converted into dopamine by nerve cells in the brain.