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What you need to know about Parkinson’s Disease

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 10:03 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 12:42 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is commonly found in people 70-years-old or older.

However, Doctor Barry Louden of the neurology department of WVU Medicine Camden Clark says it can show up in younger people.

“It can occur much younger. If it does then we always have to suspect that it may be something else,” says Louden. “It actually has been documented as starting as started in children. But it usually has been there for a few years before it is obvious.”

Officials say the disease can affect patients both physically and mentally. Seventy to 80 percent of Parkinson’s patients will have motor deficiencies and/or tremors. Some other symptoms will include slowed speech or low volume of speech, sleep issues, and forgetfulness. All of these symptoms can worsen over time.

Louden says, “The movements can get slowed more and more so that people cannot do activities of daily living. The balance and stability can get bad enough that people fall and injure themselves. The voice can get so soft that it can’t be heard. And then, on into the disease in a large percentage of the time, some problems with cognition develop.”

Though symptoms will likely not be noticeable or severe at first, they can still gradually build over time.

“Now, it typically begins unilaterally. On one side, and doesn’t progress to the other until maybe even years later,” says Louden. “And that was recognized by Dr. Parkinson in his original description of the disease in print in 1817.”

As of right now, there is no cure for Parkinson’s. But officials say there are ways to help people living with the disease.

“The treatments are mainly targeted to increase the neurotransmitter that is missing because of the degeneration of nerve cells. And that neurotransmitter is dopamine,” says Louden.

These treatments include inhalations and injections designed to inhibit dopamine receptors. There hasn’t been enough research to indicate what causes Parkinson’s outside of aging. And officials say only a small percentage of those who have it inherited it genetically.

“Five to 10 percent of the people with Parkinson’s disease have an inheritable form,” says Louden. “If you look at any individual in the population who is at risk or as of age, the risk of having an inherent form is much less.”

Medical professionals say that exercise, a healthy diet, and a proper sleep schedule can help prevent Parkinson’s.

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