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Parkinson's disease:causes, symptoms, treatments

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the destruction of a specific type of neurons in the brain, the neurons that make dopamine. The function of these neurons is essential to the control of body movements. For people with this disease, the destruction of these neurons makes it impossible to perform movements previously controlled automatically by the brain.

It also has consequences on the general behavior of the patient who may present a general lack of interest and a state of indifference to emotion and motivation. What are the causes, symptoms and treatments of Parkinson's disease?

The causes of Parkinson's disease

The causes of Parkinson's disease remain unknown to this day. However, two factors are the subject of hypotheses by the researchers. On the one hand, the factor of heredity which has been detected in some cases of families of patients. But the cases are too rare to draw a general conclusion. On the other hand, environmental factors such as prolonged exposure to chemicals such as pesticides or solvents can promote the onset of Parkinson's disease, but are not the only cause.

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease differ greatly from one patient to another. We can speak of this disease if at least two of the three major symptoms of the disease are diagnosed:slowness of movement, called akinesia, the most common symptom; muscle stiffness that can affect the whole body but is mainly concentrated along the spine and at the joints; tremor at rest, a symptom that very often concerns only one side of the body and which can appear only after several years of Parkinson's disease. When the disease is advanced, motor disorders are observed:difficulty walking (dragging leg, trampling, sudden acceleration of walking), loss of balance, falls, problems swallowing.

Parkinson's disease is also manifested by a very significant state of fatigue unrelated to an activity. Sleep disorders, and in particular chronic insomnia, also characterize this disease. People with Parkinson's disease often have digestive and urinary disorders. Psychological problems can also appear such as hyperemotivity, stress, anxiety, depression and apathy.

Treatments for Parkinson's disease

The treatments recommended by neurologists are medicinal and surgical, depending on the stage of Parkinson's disease. Prescribed drugs aim to replace the role of dopamine in the brain, normally produced by destroyed neurons. These treatments have variable results from one person to another and can cause side effects as indicated by the France Parkinson association. For the most difficult to treat or drug-sensitive cases, surgery is considered. It consists of implanting electrodes on each side of the brain to stimulate very specific parts.

To complete drug treatments, physical and speech therapy are essential for the well-being of the patient, even if they do not make it possible to eradicate the disease. As soon as Parkinson's disease is detected, physiotherapy is useful to limit the deterioration of the patient's muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and balance, in particular to prevent falls. Speech therapy can prevent or correct speaking difficulties or swallowing disorders.

Parkinson's disease is one of the most studied diseases in France and many ways to cure it or slow down its development are promising for the future.