Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disease of the nervous system. It affects millions of people around the world and while not fatal, it causes debilitating symptoms.
These symptoms affect daily circulation and mobility. Tremors, difficulty walking and balance problems are hallmarks of this disease. These symptoms arise because the brain’s ability to communicate is impaired.
Researchers are still unsure what causes Parkinson’s disease. However, there are several factors that contribute to the condition.
Some studies show that genetics play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, around 15-25% of people with Parkinson’s also have a relative who has the disease.
Someone who has a first-degree relative (eg, a parent or sibling) who has Parkinson’s disease is four to nine times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than someone who does not have a family member with the disease has.
But how is heredity a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease in some families? By mutating the genes responsible for the production of dopamine and certain proteins necessary for brain function.
There are also factors in a person’s environment that can play a role. In particular, exposure to certain chemicals has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, such as:
* Agent Orange (“Agent Orange”, a toxic substance, dioxin, responsible for various forms of cancer and birth defects affecting thousands of Vietnamese civilians after the US Air Force sprayed settlements during the Vietnam War)
Living in rural areas, drinking well water and manganese are also associated with Parkinson’s disease.
However, this does not mean that everyone exposed to these environmental factors will develop Parkinson’s disease. In fact, researchers suspect that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that causes Parkinson’s disease.
Lewy bodies are abnormal protein masses found in the brainstem of people with Parkinson’s disease. Lewy bodies contain a protein that cells cannot break down. Lewy bodies surround cells in the brain and interfere with how the brain works.
Over time, accumulations of Lewy bodies can lead to brain degeneration. This causes problems with motor coordination in people with Parkinson’s disease.
loss of dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical, that helps communicate messages between different parts of the brain. In people with Parkinson’s disease, the cells that produce dopamine are damaged.
Without an adequate supply of dopamine, the brain is unable to send or receive messages, so transmission is disrupted. This affects the body’s ability to coordinate movement and can lead to problems with walking and balance.
age and gender
Age also plays a role in Parkinson’s disease. Most cases of Parkinson’s disease occur in people over the age of 60. Younger people rarely suffer from this disease.
Researchers believe that brain function and dopamine levels decrease as the body ages. This makes a person susceptible to Parkinson’s disease.
Gender also plays an important role in Parkinson’s disease. It is a disease that affects men more often, for whom the risk of contracting the disease is actually one and a half times higher than that of women.
Some reports suggest that certain occupations increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is more common in people who work as welders, farmers or industrial workers. This may be because these individuals are more likely than others to be exposed to toxic chemicals. However, more research is needed.
There is evidence as to why Parkinson’s disease progresses, but much remains unknown. Because this disease is progressive, early diagnosis and treatment are key to minimizing symptoms.
Although there are treatments that relieve symptoms, there is currently no cure for the disease. More research is needed to determine the exact role of genetics and the environment in causing the disease.
6 ways Parkinson’s affects the mind