April is national Parkinson’s Awareness Month. The disease is named after the doctor James Parkinson, who was able to first diagnose the disease in 1817 (the disease at the time named ‘Shaky Palsy’). For this reason, awareness campaigns take place on the birthday, April 11, of Dr. Parkinson. Because this disease closely affects the lives of very close family friends of mine, spreading awareness and supporting research for Parkinson’s disease has long been something I hold close to my heart.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects your movement. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear.
As time passes, a person diagnosed with Parkinson’s can gradually be affected by a continual decline in brain-muscle communication to the point of complete dependency, regarding mobility. Depression, sexual difficulties, incontinence, and a breakdown in cognitive function can also occur. Common symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease are not limited to, but can include; tremors, slowness and stiffness in the muscles, difficulty initiating mobility, impaired balance, a shuffling or uncertain gait, fatigue, stooped posture, sleep disturbances, difficulty with handwriting, slowed or slurred speech and constipation. Because Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, symptoms will almost always worsen over time.
Today, over one million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s disease. While it often occurs in later life, it has also been known to affect younger people. Men face almost twice the risk of developing the condition.
Here’s the scary part: nobody knows what causes Parkinson’s disease. There are currently no laboratory tests that can confirm the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. In order to arrive at a diagnosis, the physician takes a family and health history from the person, and performs a thorough physical and neurological examination, observing the person’s movements and muscle function. The physician will also rule out other disorders that can cause similar symptoms. Early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is important so that appropriate treatment can begin.
It’s true that there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, with early diagnosis and an effective plan of treatment, the symptoms of the disease can often be controlled or lessened. Treatment varies significantly on a person to person basis and may include:
- Medication therapies—A number of drugs can help control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The decision behind which drugs and dosages to use, combined with risks associated with side effects of certain drugs – must be carefully supervised by your health care physician.
- Rehabilitative therapy—Physical, occupational and speech therapists can assess the person’s abilities and needs, and provide exercises to help maintain the highest possible range of motion, muscle tone, balance and flexibility, and ability to communicate effectively.
- Lifestyle alterations—Exercise helps maintain muscle tone and strength. Diet and nutrition are also important in providing your body the strength it needs to achieve optimal muscle strength.
- Support groups and counseling are available to help the person and family members deal with the social and emotional impact of Parkinson’s disease.
We do encourage you to contact your community Parkinson awareness centre and get involved, whether it be through volunteer work, or financial support towards research. A great place to start is by visiting: http://www.parkinson.org/ to educate yourself further on the seriousness of the disease, and how best you can support the community.
Krill Oil in Support
Krill Oil has been clinically proven to reduce inflammation within the body, an important factor when it comes to promoting mobility and relief from the pain associated with inflammation in the body.
Krill Oil works to promote cognitive function, another important factor as cognitive function can be jeopardized as Parksinson’s slowly takes a firmer grip on the body.
Krill Oil also promotes personal feelings of well-being. Losing control of ones autonomy and mobility can cause significant feelings of frustration, anxiety and depression. Optimal omega-3 intake on a daily basis will provide relief from some of the debilitating symptoms associated with depression. Krill Oil could also provide relief from some of the symptoms of stress and depression for friends and family members of someone diagnosed.
Obviously, when it comes to a disease as debilitating and serious as Parkinson’s, we recommend above all, cooperation and full participation with your health care team. We also encourage readers to learn more about Parkinson’s disease. Make yourself aware, get involved, and make a difference.
It takes people, on all levels, to work towards change, and find a cure.