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Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis: Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find commonly asked questions about Parkinson’s disease that will help you find answers to your problems or queries. Discover information on the symptoms of Parkinson’s, how these may affect you and how to treat Parkinson’s disease. 

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition which affects movement. A reduction in the number and functioning of brain nerve cells causes a deficiency in specific chemicals and this affects the brain’s ability to transmit information.

Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s are:

  • Tremor (shaking)
  • Slowness of movement
  • Rigidity (stiffness)
  • Bladder and bowel problems
  • Eye problems
  • Falls and dizziness
  • Freezing
  • Pain
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Skin, scalp and sweating problems
  • Problems with sleep
  • Speech and communication problems
  • Problems with swallowing

The symptoms of Parkinson’s can be treated with medication, however, there is no cure.

Trinity Homecare have a depth of experience caring for those with Parkinson’s; we understand the right support that is needed, and we ensure that it is tailored to the client’s needs.

Read our previous article here for a comprehensive breakdown of all signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. You can find information on the first symptoms you should expect, the main symptoms and other potential problems that you may face down the line. 

How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed? 

There are no specific tests to diagnose Parkinson’s disease that currently exist. If you are conscious that you are potentially suffering from the disease, you should see a specially trained Nervous System Conditions Doctor (Neurologist). The Neurologist can then diagnose Parkinson’s Disease based on your signs, symptoms, physical examination and medical history. 

What causes Parkinson’s disease? 

Parkinson’s disease is caused by damaged nerve cells in the Substantia Nigra region of the brain. This area of the brain is responsible for producing Dopamine – a chemical that acts as a messenger between the brain and nervous system. 

Damaged nerve cells leads to a decrease in the amount of production of Dopamine. This equals less control of movement for sufferers of Parkinson’s as this area of the brain cannot function as normal. This causes movements to become slow, abnormal and less controllable. 

The loss of nerve cells can be a slow process, and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually develop when around 80% of the nerve cells in the Substantia Nigra have been lost. Genetics, medication and various environmental factors are believed to be the greatest causes. 

Is there a cure for Parkinson’s disease? 

Currently, there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but treatments are available to help relieve and reduce the severity of Parkinson’s symptoms; helping to maintain quality of life. Such treatments include: 

  • Supportive therapies 
  • Medication
  • Surgery (in some cases) 

During the initial stages of Parkinson’s, the symptoms are usually mild and treatment is not necessary. However, it’s important to be in regular contact with your specialist so your condition can be monitored closely. A specific care plan should be agreed with your healthcare team and your family or carers. Click here for more Parkinson’s treatments. 

How is Parkinson’s disease treated? 

There are several therapies and treatments that can make living with Parkinson’s disease easier to deal with. In order to control the symptoms on a day to day basis, you should consider the following:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy 
  • Speech and language therapy 
  • Diet and nutritional advice 
  • Medication (refer to a specialist to find the most appropriate for your condition) 
  • Deep brain stimulation 

How long does it take for Parkinson’s disease to progress?

Parkinson’s disease affects all sufferers differently. Not everyone with Parkinson’s experiences identical combinations of symptoms – as they often vary from individual to individual. It’s common for symptoms to change from day to day, and in certain circumstances hour to hour. For this reason, it’s difficult to put timescales on Parkinson’s progression. 

However, for many people, the condition can take years to progress to the point where Parkinson’s has a serious impact on day to day life. Following diagnosis, mild symptoms can often take years to progress. 

What is the life expectancy for a person with Parkinson’s disease?

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease are usually diagnosed around the age of 60. Although those suffering from the disease often face a somewhat shorter lifespan compared to healthy individuals of the same age group – many people live up to 20 years after diagnosis. 

At Trinity Homecare we are passionate believers that it is entirely possible to live an enriched and happy lifestyle with Parkinson’s disease. A compassionate TrinityCarer can enter your life to provide a heartfelt helping hand and guide you on your life’s journey.

Parkinson’s effect on day to day life

The main Parkinson’s symptoms directly impact physical movement. The most common Parkinson’s sign is tremors or general shaking that usually begins in the arms or hands.

As time passes, it can become harder to perform everyday tasks as physical movements become slower. This is known as Bradykinesia, often resulting in a distinctive and small stepped shuffling walk.

Muscle stiffness and tension can also occur in the muscles which makes it more difficult for sufferers to move around, walk and make facial expressions. Severe cases can also result in painful muscle cramps known as dystonia.

Other physical Parkinson’s symptoms includes loss of automatic movements such as blinking and smiling. If your loved one is struggling to express their emotions, do not take this personally as this may be out of their control. Changes in speech can also make it harder for Parkinson’s sufferers to communicate efficiently as words may become slurred.

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease may also face posture and balance problems as it becomes harder to control general movement. This means there’s a greater risk of injury through falling – it would be ideal for severe Parkinson’s sufferers to have support around at all times to prevent accidents.

Another symptom of Parkinson’s disease is swallowing, chewing and eating problems that appear in various different forms. The body can easily become malnourished as natural appetite decreases and it is harder to prepare food for oneself. Having a helping hand around to safely provide nutritious daily meals can improve the overall health for those with Parkinson’s whilst dramatically decreasing the risk of danger.

Parkinson’s sufferers may also face sleeping problems such as insomnia, in return this can cause excessive sleepiness throughout the day time and general fatigue, making it harder to perform everyday tasks.

When to look for help with Parkinson’s

If you are struggling to maintain personal hygiene and complete important household tasks then it would be highly recommended to consider live-in or visiting care services. One to one support and specialist care tailored around individual needs can greatly enrich a Parkinson’s sufferers quality of life and improve overall happiness.

Depression is common for those with Parkinson’s as the uncertainty can lead to decreases in mental health. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in these circumstances. There are many areas of support and treatment that can help you overcome this and become stronger – be sure to discuss this with your GP.

Trinity recommend that those who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease continually discuss the severity with a general practitioner. The GP can then decide upon potential solutions to your problems. If you are facing thinking difficulties or confusion then you should reach out for help instantly. A lack of awareness of what’s happening in your close surroundings can substantially increase the chances of injury and danger.

Our Suggestions

As little as 2.5 hours exercise per week can slow the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms, whilst also improving mental health and sleeping problems. Many doctors suggest exercise can be as important as medication when it comes to controlling and managing Parkinson’s symptoms.

If you are concerned that you need care services but do not want to leave the comfort of your own home – contact us today to discuss how we can help. Our care plans are tailored specifically around your wants and needs, helping you maintain your desired level of independence whilst receiving one to one personal care. This enables you and your family members to relax and concentrate on getting better.