What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a common degenerative neurological disorder. This disease is characterised by poverty of movement and non-motor features such as depression, sleep difficulties, dementia and psychosis. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but certain medications and treatment options are available to alleviate the symptoms and improve quality of daily life. Parkinson's disease affects everybody in different ways, and sometimes associated disabilities or limitations of normal daily activities may take years to develop.
Sleep problems may be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease, even before motor symptoms are affected. These include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Sleep Apnoea
The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. It is associated with progressive degeneration of the brain including a structure called substantia nigra. This structure is responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls movement. Lack or low levels of dopamine trigger symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. How and why neuronal cells degenerate is not yet fully known.
Main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Poverty of movement
- Rigidity, tremor
Doctor will evaluate the patient’s condition and suggest treatment depending on the symptoms, age and other medical conditions accordingly. Treatment may include:
- Deep Brain Stimulation - uses electrical pulses to reduce the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
- Dopaminergic therapy - uses medication to compensate for the lost dopamine
- Dopamine agonists which stimulate brain receptors
- Levodopa therapy which replaces dopamine in the brain
- Selegiline, rasagiline which reduce the breakdown of dopamine
- Non-Dopaminergic therapy
- Anti-cholinergic drugs
- Treatment of movement disorders with oral medications or botulinum toxin injections - used to reduce the frequency and severity of abnormal movements, such as various forms of dystonia, hemifacial spasm