Treatments for Parkinson’s Disease

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative condition that affects the central nervous system of the brain, particularly the motor system. This condition is caused by the death of dopamine-generating brain cells in the midbrain.

Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease is an incurable disorder. The treatments for this condition are geared towards controlling the symptoms. In today’s post, we are listing down the existing treatments and surgical procedures available for Parkinson’s disease:

Medications

Certain types of drugs reduce the jarring symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as tremors and difficulty walking. Most of these medications contain synthetic substitute for dopamine, a signaling chemical produced by cells in the brain. Dopamine cannot be given directly because it cannot enter the brain. Medications for Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Levodopa
  • Duopa
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • MAO-B Inhibitors
  • Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Inhibitors
  • Tolcapone
  • Anti-cholinergics
  • Amantadine

Although these dopamine substitutes reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, the efficacy wanes over time. However, as long as the patient takes the drug, the symptoms can be controlled more easily. That said, some drugs could cause a range of side effects including nausea, hallucinations, sleepiness, compulsive behavior, hypersexuality, and insomnia.

Surgical Procedures

Deep brain stimulation is an invasive treatment applied to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The procedure involves surgically implanting electrodes in specific areas of the brain. The electrodes are connected to a small generator that is surgically inserted into the chest area, near the collarbone.

The generator sends out electrical pulses to the brain to reduce tremors and improve walking. The doctor may adjust the level of electrical impulses accordingly.

Just like any type of surgical procedures, deep brain stimulation has its risks and complications too. Although the treatment yielded positive results, it could trigger a stroke or cause a brain hemorrhage. Deep brain stimulation increases the risk of infections too. Some patients encounter problems due to electrical simulations or a broken generator. Certain parts of the generator have to be replaced by the surgeon and this requires yet another surgery.

Deep brain stimulation is considered as a last resort treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. It is reserved for patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease who are no longer responding to medications. The procedure can stabilize the reaction to levodopa, reduce the rigidity of the muscles and improves the slowing of movement. Deep brain stimulation can control dyskinesias that no longer respond to medication adjustments.

Although deep brain stimulation eases the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, it does not stop the condition from progressing.

Preventing Parkinson’s Disease

There are ways to reduce your risk of developing this disease later in life. Studies show that caffeine appears to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Drinking caffeinated drinks may stave off this condition.

Consuming antioxidant-rich foods also minimizes the risk of Parkinson’s disease. You want to eat foods that are high in vitamin C. Some studies also show that foods high in essential fatty acids may reduce the likelihood of contracting Parkinson’s disease. However, more studies are needed to verify this claim. Finally, anti-inflammatory drugs and estrogen are linked to the reduction of developing Parkinson’s disease.


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