Cover image for the article on Parkinson's disease symptoms

Causes and symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease result from a disorder of the nervous system responsible for movement in the brain, so motor symptoms appear in addition to other non-motor symptoms.

Parkinson's disease symptoms

Parkinson's disease is defined as a part of degenerative diseases with motor symptoms that appear in elderly patients. This belief is not entirely correct, because Parkinson's disease has non-motor symptoms that appear long before motor symptoms.

Also, in a few cases, Parkinson's disease may affect people of younger age as a result of some genetic diseases that manifest with symptoms of Parkinson's.

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease are not limited to pure Parkinson's disease, there are many diseases and injuries that lead to the emergence of symptoms of Parkinson's disease in people.

As we mentioned above, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include two parts: motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms, both of which result from the death of neurons in the substantia nigra, which manufacture dopamine in the brain, which leads to the emergence of these symptoms.

An image of the substantia nigra (dopamine-producing cells) in the brain.
The substantia nigra (dopamine-producing cells)

Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease may begin years before the appearance of one of its motor symptoms in the body, and this helps us to early detection of the disease in some cases.

Symptoms of non-motor Parkinson's disease include:

  • Decreased sense of smell: the patient cannot distinguish smells for a long time and not transiently, as in the common cold.
  • Anxiety, depression, hallucinations, and other psychological symptoms experienced by Parkinson's patients in the early stage.
  • dementia and loss of the ability for proper mental judgment.
  • Constipation and urinary problems: This is due to a defect in the coordination and nervous regulation needed by the act of defecation or urination.
  • Sleep disturbances: For example, excessive sleepiness occurs.
  • Sexual problems: Both sexes have a lack of desire in addition to erectile dysfunction in men, which affects marital life.
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing: This may lead to suffocation of the patient. We also see saliva drooling in a Parkinson's patient.
  • Decreased pitch of the voice and difficulty in pronunciation with reluctance to start speaking and the patient's voice is all in one tone without changing the pitch of his voice during speech.
  • Dizziness and fainting when standing due to orthostatic hypotension in Parkinson's patients.

    Picture showing motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease
    Motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease

It includes all muscle movement disorders of Parkinson's patient, characterized by being asymmetric, meaning that it begins in one limb and with the progression of the disease over time affects the rest of the limbs with changes to the motor system.

Among the main symptoms of Parkinson's disease with movement disorder are:

  • Slow movement: the patient's movement becomes heavy and he is unable to perform movements smoothly, which is the most important symptom of Parkinson's disease and the most common (more important than fibrillation).
  • Shaking and trembling: the most common symptoms, and for which it is called Parkinson's disease (although the absence of tremor does not negate the disease). The tremor is in a resting position and disappears when the patient moves his limb, and is in the hands, fingers, feet, legs, jaw and chin and may eventually include all extremities, shivering In Parkinson's disease does not affect the head.
  • Small handwriting: It is also called fine writing, where the patient cannot write in a large handwriting at the normal speed and writing becomes difficult.
  • Difficulty coordinating muscles: Parkinson's patients are unable to button a shirt, tie their shoes, or roll over in bed on their sides.
  • Muscular rigidity: The patient's body or one of his limbs becomes stiff as a result of severe muscle stiffness and contraction for a long period of time.
  • Loss of facial expressions: It also occurs due to muscular rigidity and is called the masked face or the face of a poker player because the patient cannot express his sadness or joy on his face and sometimes he may not blink.
  • Loss or weakness of the patient's posture correction reflexes (balance problems): It means that the patient falls to the ground easily because he is not able to restore balance and stand up properly, all it takes is to throw him a simple push.
  • Slow initiation of movement: as if reluctance to do it, due to a neurological defect in the brain.
  • Parkinsonian gait: It pretends to bend forward and bend the elbows and knees, also slowly walking with short steps that increase in speed gradually as if the patient is trying to pull his feet, also does not move his hands while walking.

    Picture showing the symptoms of Parkinson's disease
    Motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease causes

There are many causes of Parkinson's disease, but most of them are due to injuries to the central nervous system (the brain), and these injuries often manifest the same symptoms.

Some causes may differ from each other in the speed of emergence and development of these symptoms or in the characteristics of some of them, which leads us to the cause. The causes of Parkinson's disease include the following:

Parkinson's disease of unknown cause

It includes mostly 80% cases of Parkinson's disease, affecting people with an average age of 60 years (begins in the fifties of life) in which mutant proteins accumulate in neurons in the substantia nigra and dopamine-producing basal nuclei of the brain, leading to their death (these regions are responsible for movement in the body).

As a result, dopamine decreases in the nervous system, causing a disorder in the nervous system, and symptoms of slow movement and Parkinson's disease appear with sleep disturbance and difficulty walking.

The occurrence of this type is progressive over a period of years, and the symptoms of Parkinson's disease start mild and then increase in severity until it reaches very severe stages in which he is unable to perform the simplest movements or is unable to exercise a proper mental judgment.

Cerebrovascular disease leading to Parkinson's disease

The blood clots blocking the arteries supplying the dopamine-producing areas lead to the death of these areas and the occurrence of cerebral infarction (cerebral stroke) in them, which leads to the development of Parkinson's disease in them.

The severity of Parkinson's disease depends on the size, location and function of the infarcted area. Injury to the substantia nigra in the brain stem will lead to Parkinson's disease.

Medicines that cause symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease (pharmacological parkinsonism)

There are many drugs that affect dopamine levels and cause a disturbance in the nervous system, as a result of which the symptoms of Parkinson's disease appear. These drugs include:

  • Metoclopramide: It is used to treat vomiting and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • Sodium valproate: used to treat epilepsy.
  • Tetrabenazine: It is used in the treatment of hyperkinetic diseases such as Huntington's disease.
  • Antipsychotic medications.
  • Lithium: a psychotropic drug to treat bipolar disorder.
  • MPTP: A substance found in cheap, poorly made drugs.

Degenerative diseases leading to the emergence of Parkinson's disease

The mechanism of these diseases is the death of a specific nerve tissue, the loss of which affects the quality of life of the patient and leads to the appearance of symptoms related to the damaged area (memory loss, for example, if the area responsible for it is destroyed).

Damage to nerve tissue in these diseases may extend to other areas, and may include areas responsible for coordinating movement, resulting in symptoms of Parkinson's disease due to a lack of dopamine production.

Parkinson's disease symptoms are caused by one of the following degenerative diseases that affect the body:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Progressive supranuclear paralysis
  • Multiple system atrophy
  • cortical basal degeneration

Hereditary Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease may appear as a result of some genetic diseases that lead to the destruction of dopaminergic cells in the nervous system as a result of genetic mutations in humans.

Among these genetic diseases are the following:

  • Huntington's dance disease
  • Wilson's disease
  • Cerebellar ataxia

Follow with us the following medical article on Neurological Parkinson's disease to learn about the diagnosis, drug treatment and surgical procedures for the treatment of Parkinson's disease in Turkey.

Presents Bimaristan Medical Center Medical advice to improve your life and guide you to the best doctors in Turkey to treat Parkinson's disease with modern methods such as deep brain stimulation, So Contact us.


Sources:

  1. NIH
  2. Parkinson's Foundation
  3. AANS

Common Questions

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disease that affects the cells responsible for producing dopamine in the brain, causing disturbances in coordination of movements and the appearance of motor symptoms such as tremors and non-motor symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

It worsens with age, and over time (15 or 20 years) the patient becomes almost completely paralyzed (parkinsonian) due to depletion of a chemical neurotransmitter called dopamine.

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