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April 15, 2014

Parkinson's Disease: A disease with an unknown cause

Parkinson’s is known as a degenerative disease. It occurs when the neurons that control movement slowly and gradually die.

Parkinson's Disease: A disease with an unknown cause

Causes

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) can be explained by the loss of cells located in the part of the brain that produces dopamine, a chemical involved in controlling movement.

The exact causes of PD remain unknown at this time. However, according to certain theories, PD might be the result of a combination of two main factors:

  • Family history
  • Environment (some scientists believe that those significantly exposed to herbicides or pesticides are more at risk of developing PD).

Other factors, such as certain medications, cranial trauma or other neurological disorders, are also under study.

Symptoms

While the first symptoms of PD normally appear around age 60, they can occur at any age.

Among a large majority of those affected, PD first appears as hand tremors. These tremors are generally more prevalent at rest and grow worse with fatigue and stress.

Here are a few other symptoms that can be observed as the disease progresses:

  • Slowness of movement
  • Generalized muscle stiffness
  • Problems with posture and balance
  • Decreased arm swing
  • Shuffling
  • Lack of facial expression
  • Constipation 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weakened voice volume
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Excessive salivation.

Treatment

There is currently no medication that can cure Parkinson’s disease. However, medication can reduce some of the symptoms and improve the person’s quality of life. It is essential for the dosage of these drugs to be carefully adjusted based on the progression of the disease.

There are four main categories of medications:

  • Dopamine precursors (levodopa), which convert into dopamine in the brain
  • Dopamine antagonists, which mimic the effects of dopamine (bromocriptine, pergolide, pramipexole, ropinirole)
  • Inhibitors of dopamine degradation, which prevent existing dopamine from being destroyed
  • Anticholinergics, which reduce the symptoms caused by the lack of dopamine, including tremors (benzotropine, trihexyphénidyle).

Amantadine hydrochloride, which helps to release dopamine, also constitutes a treatment option, as does surgery and neurological simulation with an electrode.

The importance of a healthy lifestyle

A regular exercise program and physical therapy can help stave off loss of motor control. Keeping active and eating well are other key ways to manage PD.

In-store health services

If you have questions about PD and how to care for a person with this disease, don’t hesitate to talk to your pharmacist. He’s there to help!

There are many professional pharmacy services available to help you manage Parkinson’s disease:

Services in pharmacy are the sole responsibility of pharmacist-owners. Only pharmacists are responsible for pharmacy practice. They only provide related services acting under a pharmacist-owner's name.

The uniprix.com Website deals with health-related topics. The information presented has been validated by experts and is accurate at the time of posting. In no way does it replace the opinion of a health care professional. Uniprix Inc. and its affiliated pharmacists accept no liability whatsoever in connection with the information provided on this Website.