Parkinson’s disease (PD) develops when nerve cells in the substantia nigra part of the brain deteriorate over time resulting in our brain’s ability to produce dopamine.

Symptoms of PD Most people recognize tremors or shaking of the hand or fingers as a symptom of PD. Other symptoms are slow movement, muscle stiffness, impaired posture and balance, speech and writing changes, and loss of automatic movements such as smiling or swinging your arms as you walk.
Most people develop PD after the age of 50. A small percentage may see symptoms a decade earlier. Parkinson’s patients may have a slightly shorter lifespan than those without the disease. Most will live another ten to twenty years after it is diagnosed.

Causes of PD What causes nerve cells in the brain to break down and die has puzzled many researchers. As dopamine levels decrease, body movement is impaired, and symptoms of PD begin to appear. What causes these nerve cells to break down and die?

Some scientists believe that genes are part of the cause of PD. Specific genes have been identified, but the family genetic progression is not normal. Therefore, the genetic cause might increase the risk rather than be a direct cause for the development of this disease.

However, environmental exposure appears to increase the risk of PD. Possibly the combination of genes and toxins might be enough to start the disease progression. Other risk factors that are believed to contribute to the development of PD are age and gender. Men are more likely to develop PD than women. Young adults rarely develop PD.

Complications with PD As Parkinson’s disease develops, other health problems arise as a result. Cognitive problems are common, and most medicines do not improve these complications. Depression and emotional issues, such as fear, anxiety, and loss of motivation, are also common. Some medications work well with these types of problems.

Swallowing may become a significant problem as the disease progresses, resulting in increased drooling. Chewing and eating are also late-stage health issues. Sleep issues include waking during the night and sleeping during the day. Medications appear to address sleep issues adequately. Bladder problems and constipation are common complications. Several other health concerns include blood pressure changes, fatigue, pain, and loss of the sense of smell.

Gut Microbiome and PD Our gut is our second brain. There are many interrelationships between our thinking brain and our digestive system. A study investigated the link between our gut and PD.

Gut bacteria in PD patients vary significantly from those in neurologically healthy people. Stool samples, family history, and other data were collected and analyzed on nearly 500 PD patients, and almost half that number was without any brain health issues.

PD patients showed sizable differences between the gut microbiomes of the two groups. Bifidobacterium dentium concentrations were higher in PD patients. This bacterium is known to cause infections and brain abscesses. Roseburia intestinalis bacteria were often lower in PD patients – a significant shift from healthy digestive systems. In PD patients, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Klebsiella quasipneumonia bacteria were also elevated. This group of bacteria is known for increased infections and inflammation.

Something caused the increase of unhealthy bacteria and a decrease in healthy gut microbes. Did the disease adjust the concentrations of bacteria, or were the concentrations the cause of the disease? Currently, no one is certain. However, it appears that there is a correlation between the gut microbiome and the development of PD.

Conclusion Death and impairment brought on by Parkinson’s disease are increasing faster than any other neurological disorder. The number of cases has doubled in less than 25 years.

As with most neurological disorders, no one knows how to prevent the contraction and development of diseases such as Parkinson’s. However, many speculate that exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of this age-related disease.

Those who drink coffee, tea, and cola appear less likely to contract PD. But is caffeine a magic bullet? Or, maybe one or more of the phytonutrients in green tea, such as epigallocatechin gallate, act to inhibit the development of PD?

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –

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