[충남일보 윤근호 기자] Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disease of the brain and nervous system, is one of the three main geriatric diseases, and its incidence is steadily increasing as the population ages. According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of patients which was 120,977 in 2018 is gradually increasing to 131,548 in 2021.
In particular, Parkinson’s disease is often misunderstood as a disease such as stroke or dementia due to low awareness of the disease. In addition, it is a geriatric disease that often occurs in the elderly, but it is important to prevent and manage it in advance as the symptoms progress in the long term. Daejeon Eulji University Hospital Neurology Professor Park Sang-min’s help will be informed about this.
▲ Are sleep, talking and constipation a sign of Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disease caused by a lack of dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that acts on a part of the brain called the basal ganglia and enables smooth, natural movement. Therefore, a lack of dopamine causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s, where body movements become unnatural.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from patient to patient and can vary depending on the extent of the disease. Professor Park Sang-min of the Department of Neurology at Eulji University Hospital in Daejeon said, “There is no clear evidence of a correlation between age of onset and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but it may affect the onset and progression of some diseases. “
For example, those with a younger onset show more tremor than those with a later onset. In case of later onset, more severe motor symptoms are experienced, and gait disorders or balance abnormalities are experienced.
In addition to these motor symptoms, it can be associated with non-motor symptoms such as depression, sleep disorder, autonomic nervous disorder or memory disorder, and as the disease progresses, there is a high possibility of cognitive impairment such as dementia .
In particular, around 10 years before the main symptoms occur, the brain begins to deteriorate, and at this time, the signs of the disease also begin to appear. During the incubation or asymptomatic period, sleep talking (REM sleep behavior disorder), olfactory disturbances, and constipation appear without the patient even being aware of it.
▲ Does everyone with Parkinson’s symptoms have Parkinson’s disease?
In typical cases of Parkinson’s disease, symptoms and neurological examination alone are sufficient to make a diagnosis. However, it needs to be distinguished from ‘Atypical Parkinson’s Syndrome’, which does not show loss of dopamine cells, ‘Parkinson’s syndrome’, and ‘Secondary Parkinson’s syndrome’, which shows clinical features similar to Parkinson’s disease.
To this end, thyroid function tests, blood tests, brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), autonomic nervous system tests, and Wilson’s disease tests are performed. The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is not yet fully understood. Treatment research for a cure is also currently underway.
The most popular treatment is drug therapy, which improves motor symptoms by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. If the effect of the drug wears off as the disease progresses or complications related to movement such as dyskinesia occur, surgery can be performed.
A typical surgical treatment is deep brain stimulation, which is a method of controlling the activity of nerve cells in the brain by inserting electrodes into specific areas of the brain. Professor Park Sang-min explained, “Surgery is not applicable to all patients, and whether or not to have surgery is decided by considering the number of cases, such as the patient’s age, the severity of the symptoms, and the accompanying symptoms take him.”
▲ What is the most effective prevention and treatment method?
If you have Parkinson’s disease, it is very important to make exercise a part of your life. This is because exercise is the only ‘drug-free treatment’ that can slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Muscle mass needs to be maintained through regular exercise so that activity cannot be lost, and it can also help patients’ mental health.
Exercises that have been proven effective in patients with Parkinson’s disease include yoga, tai chi, resistance training, and treadmills. It is important to do it regularly every day without straining the body, and the effect of exercise is increased if you are confident in the exercise. For more effective treatment, it is also recommended to establish an exercise plan with a professional trainer or physical therapist rather than exercising alone.
Daejeon University Hospital Professor of Neurology Eulji Park Sang-min said, “Parkinson’s disease shows a great difference in the course of the disease as well as the symptoms depending on the will of the patient.” If you continue to receive treatment based on this, you will be able to live a better life.”