6 Misbelief Regarding the Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative movement disorder. Over time, dopamine-producing cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra deteriorate.
This deterioration, which leads to a reduction in dopamine, produces symptoms. The symptoms tend to develop slowly over time, often starting with a slight tremor in one hand or stiffness in movement.
Aside from tremor and stiffness, other symptoms include difficulties coordinating movements, changes in posture, a fixed facial expression, a reduced sense of smell, mood changes, and sleep problems.
As the disease progresses, some people with Parkinson’s develop dementia.
Below are some of the misbelief people have about this diseases:
1. Parkinson’s only affects movement
It is true that the medical community considers Parkinson’s disease a motor disorder. However, people with the condition often also experience nonmotor symptoms, which can begin before the motor symptoms.
Nonmotor symptoms can include cognitive impairment or dementia, depression and anxiety, sleep dysfunction, pain, apathy, sexual dysfunction, and bowel incontinence. People often overlook these symptoms, but they are important.
2. Treatment only works for a few years
Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, drugs can help people manage the condition. One of the most effective drugs is levodopa, which the body converts into dopamine once it enters the brain.
There is a long standing misbelief that levodopa can only relieve symptoms for about 5 years before it stops working. This is a false. Levodopa can be effective for decades. However, over time, its effectiveness might reduce.
In other words, it is not that levodopa stops being effective. Instead, the supply of the enzyme that it needs to be effective becomes more limited.
In the past, doctors and people with Parkinson’s have held off starting treatment because of fears that levodopa would slowly stop working. We now know, though, that this reduction in potency is due not to the length of time that a person takes levodopa but to the progression of the disease.
However, it is true that over time, each dose of levodopa might improve symptoms for a shorter period. This so-called wearing-off means that symptoms start to return before the next dose is due.
3. Levodopa makes symptoms worse
Another misconception about levodopa is that it can make Parkinson’s disease symptoms worse. This is not true. It is important to note that levodopa can cause other motor symptoms, such as dyskinesia, which refers to involuntary jerky movements. However, the onset of dyskinesia is related to the progress of the underlying disease rather than how long an individual has been taking levodopa.
Therefore, doctors no longer recommend holding off on taking levodopa until later in the disease.
According to the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA), dyskinesia does not generally appear until the individual has been taking levodopa for 4–10 years.
4. Tremor always signifies Parkinson’s
Tremor is the most well-known symptom of Parkinson’s disease. However, it can also occur as part of other conditions, including drug-induced parkinsonism, vascular parkinsonism, dystonic or essential tremor, psychogenic disease, and dopa-responsive dystonia.
5. Doctors can always provide an accurate outlook
Although doctors understand the range of symptoms that are associated with Parkinson’s, it is very difficult to predict how an individual’s disease will progress. Parkinson’s varies substantially among individuals.
6. Everyone with Parkinson’s has tremor
Tremor is perhaps one of the most recognizable symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, some people develop nonmotor symptoms before tremor appears.
Also, some individuals do not experience tremor at any point during the disease’s progression.