Structural Biochemistry/Parkinson's Disease
What is Parkinson's Disease?
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system which affects one's movement. Parkinson's disease is a motor system disorder in which is is the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.
Parkinson's disease is typically known for a common symptom of a tremor. However, patients can show signs of stiffness or slowing of movement.
Causes of Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease is caused by slow progression of deterioration of neurons in the substantia nigra. The substantia nigra is known for producing dopamine. Dopamine is known to be a messenger in which is allows the substantia nigra and the corpus striatum to communicate with one another to initiate smooth and balanced muscle movement.
Although experts know what causes Parkinson's disease, there is no known reason for the impairment of the neurons. However, experts have an idea of may play a role in causing the impairment. These factors are either genetics or environmental factors.
Signs & Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's signs and symptoms can vary from person to person. A younger patient can show particular signs and symptoms of the disease at an earlier age, while a much older patient can show those same exact symptoms later on.
It is common for symptoms to begin on one side of the body and slowly start effecting the other side of the body.
Common symptoms include:
- Tremors in a hand, arm, or leg (typically the first symptom that most people notice)
- Stiff and aching muscles
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
- Weakness of face and throat muscles
- Difficulty in walking and balance
Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease
Currently, there are no precise tests or exams to diagnose Parkinson's disease. However, a doctor may diagnose a patient based on their medical history, reviewing of signs and symptoms, and a neurological and physical examination. The physician may order certain tests to be done in order to rule out other possible diseases with similar signs and symptoms.
Currently, there are no cures for Parkinson's disease. However, medications can be prescribed to manage with certain symptoms. By providing certain medication, it can increase the brain's supply of dopamine.
Generally, a doctor may prescribe these medications:
- Levodopa and carbidopa
- Doapmine agonists
- COMT inhibitors
- MAO-B inhibiors
- Anticholinergic agents