Parkinson’s Disease – Causes, life expectancy and more!

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects the brain and the nerves. It hinders motor function and mental ability. While it is not fatal, people suffering from Parkinson’s disease will have a shortened life expectancy.

Causes of Parkinson’s disease
The root cause behind the disease is due to the depletion of dopamine in the body. In people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the cells that produce this chemical start to die slowly. Dopamine is responsible for the proper movement of the body.

However, the is no definite reason behind why dopamine levels drop. There are theories that suggest it could be a hereditary problem passed down from one generation to the other. Some other theories suggest that it is due to excessive exposure to pesticides. Statistics have also shown that men are 50% more likely affected by Parkinson’s than women.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
The disease is identified by certain symptoms. They gradually progress over many years. The speed at which the disease progresses varies from person to person. There are medications that can slow the progress of the disease. These symptoms can even be unnoticeable at times.

Here are a few symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

  • Sudden Tremors
  • Loss of balance
  • Uncontrolled spasms
  • Slowing of movement
  • Dementia
  • Loss of memory

Stages of Parkinson’s disease
The disease starts with mild symptoms and progresses to extreme conditions over five stages. These stages help identify the disease’s life expectancy.

Stage 1
The first stage has mild symptoms that affect only one side of the body.

Stage 2
In the second stage, both the sides of the body is affected. It affects the posture and the gait of the person.

Stage 3
The movements of the body slow down in this stage. The balance is also impaired.

Stage 4
This is the stage where the symptoms become severe. The muscles become rigid making any movement difficult. At this stage, it becomes impossible for the person to look after themselves.

Stage 5
This is the final stage of the disease where the person remains bedridden. They can only move around with the aid of a wheelchair.

These five stages take anywhere from 15-20 years to manifest.

Treatment for Parkinson’s disease
Although there is no cure for the disease, there are medications and treatments that can slow down the disease. This is done by using artificial means to supplement dopamine to the body. Treatment is not required in the first stage as the symptoms are almost unnoticeable and can be managed without any extra supplements. Once it starts escalating, treatment can slow the effects of the disease.

Life expectancy
The disease mostly affects people who are older that 60. However, in recent times there have been freak cases where patients as young as 30 were diagnosed with the symptoms.

Early diagnosis is the key to increasing a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease life expectancy. By keeping a check on a daily basis, treatment can be administered to delay the symptoms. The average age of death was found to be about 16 years after the onset of the symptoms. Hence it is best to get a complete medical check up if there are any noticeable symptoms.

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