How is Parkinson’s diagnosed?

 24th Aug 2021

In this blog, we will discuss how is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed and how you can help a loved one who is struggling with something they don’t understand. Usually, Parkinson’s disease is found in patients who are 50 and above and it develops gradually and the symptoms are mild at first. Symptoms also develop slowly and their severity is different for every individual. There are many different conditions that mimic Parkinson’s, so if you have a few symptoms, don’t panic but book a doctors appointment as they will understand the disease thoroughly.

If you are reading our blog on ‘how is Parkinson’s diagnosed’ and are worried about yourself or another we can help. You can call us up at arbour care and companions to discuss compassionate care plans.

How is Parkinson’s diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose you dependent upon your symptoms, there are no tests that conclusively show the disease. They will also take into consideration your medical history and complete a detailed physical examination. You and your GP will have a chat about how Parkinson’s is diagnosed. Shortly after this, your doctor will ask you about issues you’re experiencing. They may also require you to perform some simple mental or physical tasks if you’re comfortable to do so.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinsons disease is a nervous system disorder that affects the brain and your movement. In Parkinson’s disease, certain nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra gradually give out causing certain symptoms. Many symptoms caused by Parkinson’s are due to a loss of neurons that produce a neuro-transmitter hormone in your brain called dopamine. It is not yet known why there is a loss of nerve cells in this region of the brain but ongoing research is being conducted to find the root cause. When dopamine levels decrease by a loss of nerve cells, it causes abnormal brain activity that affects the body and brain in different ways. Although Parkinson’s disease is little understood and therefore cannot be cured, medications can be provided for you to reduce the symptoms you are experiencing. This medication can help you get on with day to day tasks to allow you to experience life at your best potential.

Symptoms that may show Parkinson’s disease is likely

There are three main symptoms that your doctor will regard higher than others when completing a diagnosis. These symptoms all affect physical movement.

The slowness of movement- Physical movements is slower than usual which can interrupt daily activities. Consequently showing a distinctive slow shuffling walk with smaller steps.

Muscle stiffness- Tension and muscle stiffness can make it difficult to move around and make facial expressions.

Tremor- This is when one of your limbs will shake, commonly occurring in the hand or arm and is more likely to occur when you are relaxed.

What are the other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?

Physical symptoms:
  • Balance problems
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Nerve pain
  • Problems with peeing
  • Constipation problems
  • Erectile dysfunction

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mild cognitive impairment including memory problems or problems that require organisation
  • Dementia- Dementia includes a variety of symptoms including memory problems, personality changes, hallucinations and delusions.

The cause of Parkinson’s disease

Although research is being carried out currently to try and understand the cause of Parkinson’s disease, findings are still unclear. From the research that has been carried out, it is believed that a combination of genetic changes and environmental factors could be the cause. It is suggested pesticides and herbicides used in farming could be a possible environmental cause. Another suggestion is that industrial pollution may contribute to the condition.

Parkinsonism

Parkinsonism is the term used to describe the symptoms of tremors, muscle rigidity and slowness of movement. Certain causes of parkinsonism are known but to re-iterate, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is still not known.

Parkinsonism causes include:

  • Medication- certain Parkinsonism symptoms can develop after taking certain medication like certain types of antipsychotics
  • Certain brain conditions such as progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration
  • Cerebrovascular disease

Thank you for reading our blog ‘How is Parkinson’s diagnosed’. If you have or you know someone with Parkinson’s disease, call up our care team in Surrey today to see how we can help.

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