Parkinson's disease results from the degeneration of cells in the part of the brain that produces dopamine, a substance nerves need to function properly. Great strides have been made in treatment, offering new hope for the nearly one million middle-aged and older people who are affected. In most people, the cause is unknown.
The symptoms include:
Slow or stiff movement
Shuffling or dragging the feet
Blinking less frequently than normal
Lack of spontaneity in facial expression
Difficulty in adjusting positions
Dementia (in advanced stages)
Medications such as bromocriptine (brand name Parlodel) and levodopa (brand name Sinemet) increase the dopamine level in the brain For many people, these drugs control symptoms.
Other treatments try to make the person with Parkinson's more comfortable. Warm baths and massages, for example, can help prevent muscle rigidity. Here are some other helpful hints.
Take care to maintain a safe home environment. (Replace razor blades with electric
shavers, for example.)
Simplify tasks. (Replace tie shoes with loafers, for instance.)
Include high-fiber foods in the diet (to add bulk) and drink lots of fluids, to prevent constipation.
Get expert physical therapy.
Remain as active as possible.
Get professional help to relieve depression, if necessary.