Her Check-Up: The Low-Down On Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is believed to affect roughly 8,000 people in Ireland.
Marking International Parkinson’s Disease Awareness day, this week we look at the condition, what it is and the signs and symptoms of those affected.
So what is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system. The condition affects the movement of sufferers, developing gradually over time.
The starting side-effects are commonly diagnosed by a small tremor in a hand, stiffness in joints or the slowing down of movement.
What symptoms should you look out for with Parkinson’s?
Parkinsons can present in both motor and non-motor symptoms.
Motor symptoms typically affect the physical movements of the body and include:
- Tremor: seen when the hand or leg is at rest, or not in use, known as a resting tremor.
- Slowness of movement: is often described as a difficulty in completing daily tasks at the usual speed and ease. This is a common problem in things such as showering, dressing or driving your car.
- Rigidity: the stiffness caused by Parkinson's can be a result of the muscles being unable to stretch or relax. Light exercises or physiotherapy can help loosen up tight muscles, and improve mobility.
- Non-motor symptoms include:
- Constipation: commonly affecting people suffering with Parkinson’s, constipation should be treated as early as possible to allow medication to be properly digested.
- Depression: Anxiety and depression are common side effects of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Speak to your doctor or a counsellor about ways to deal with feelings of stress, anger, hopelessness or sadness.
What causes Parkinson’s Disease?
In Parkinson's disease, certain nerve cells (neurons) in the brain gradually break down or die.
Parkinson’s is largely a genetic condition, but can be developed over prolonged exposure to certain chemical toxins, but the risk remains incredibly small for contracting the condition in this way.
How can you diagnose Parkinson’s Disease?
If you are concerned about your symptoms due to family genes or other underlying symptoms, book an appointment to talk to your doctor.
Your doctor may order tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms or refer you onto a consultant to talk through options.
Alternatively, visit the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland for more free, confidential advice.