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Living with Parkinson’s Disease

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WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE ?

It is a disorder where there is progressive deterioration of the nervous system. It is
characterised by tremors, rigidity, loss or impairment of the power of voluntary movement and postural instability. The cause of Parkinson’s has still not yet
been established, however several factors play a role.

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RISK FACTORS

  • Age
  • Gender: affects males more than females
  • Race: affects Europeans the most
  • Trauma to the head
  • Lower social economic status
  • Exposure to certain neurotoxins such as pesticides
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SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

  • Motor
  • Slowness of movement
  • Rigidity
  • Resting tremor
  • Postural changes
  • Freezing with walking
  • Non-motor
  • Reduction in the capability to smell
  • Constipation
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pain
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • As the disease progresses
  • Decrease in bladder control
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Dementia
  • Faints or passing out
  • Postural low blood pressure.
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COMPLICATIONS

These occur with long time therapy with a drug named levodopa. The most common complication is known to be, abnormality or impairment of voluntary movement.

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LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS

  • Regular exercise: three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes. This will assist in gaining strength, relieving muscle stiffness and to a certain extent
    delay the progression of the disease.
  • Speech therapy: this will help if you should have an impairment in verbal communication.
  • Balanced diet and drinking plenty of water.
  • Modify home for safety and access with the help of occupational and physical therapists, who will decide whether home assistance such as shower
    rails, raised toilets, etc., is required.
  • Get adequate amount of sleep: a minimum of eight hours of sleep.
  • Take naps if you feel fatigued during the day.
  • Speak to your doctor about methods of stress management as it has been seen to worsen Parkinson’s disease
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