Parkinson’s disease can be described as a movement disorder that impacts the nervous system, said Dr Pavan Pai, interventional neurologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road. This World Parkinson’s Disease Day, observed annually on April 11, know everything you need to know about the condition. This year, the theme is integrated healthcare.
“Since the disease, if not diagnosed on time, can lead to multiple complications, symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, and stiffness — seen due to the low dopamine levels in the brain — must not be ignored. Doing so can even lead to fatal health issues,” he said.
Some of the issues that Parkinson’s patients face include:
Cognitive problems: One may have problems with thinking, memory, judgment, and problem-solving. Patients, usually, become forgetful and have trouble finding words, difficulty in making decisions, have brain fog, and are unable to focus.
Swallowing problems: Parkinson’s is a muscle movement disorder that impacts the muscles used in swallowing. If the symptoms are ignored, one may develop a condition called dysphagia (inability to swallow food). This can be accompanied by voice changes, coughing, and even choking.
Sleep problems: This disease can invite a plethora of sleep problems. One may encounter issues such as sleep apnea, daytime sleepiness, nightmares, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and inability to get a sound sleep after waking up.
Psychological issues: Those having Parkinson’s for a long time often exhibit drastic changes in behaviour, including being depressed, anxious, stressed, irritated, frustrated, agitated, violent, restless, impatient, and will also have poor self-esteem. Hence, counselling and timely medication is a must, stressed Dr Pai.
Sexual dysfunction: Drop in sexual interest and physical functioning will occur owing to the fall in dopamine levels. One will have a low sex drive, and an inability to have an orgasm or erection. Women may experience vaginal dryness.
Sensory problems: Loss of smell, vision changes, aches, pains, and balance problems are commonly seen in those with Parkinson’s disease. Neglecting the condition can lead to disruption in day-to-day life activities.
Bladder problems: The disease weakens the muscles in the digestive system which will slow down digestion, causing constipation. People will also be unable to pass urine.
Dementia: A majority of patients with Parkinson’s disease may suffer from dementia in later life. They will also have problems with speech, hallucinations, and delusions.
“Ignoring the disease can worsen one’s well-being. Hence, it is advisable to stay in touch with the doctor once the symptoms show and seek further medical attention. The goal should to be improve the quality of life with appropriate care and management of the disease,” said Dr Pai, stressing that there is no cure available currently.