Parkinson’s disease is a major cause of disability in the elderly. The first symptoms are sometimes difficult to identify.
More than 167,000 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease in France, around 25,000 new diagnoses are made each year. After Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the country. Rare before 45 years, it increases in older people with a peak of occurrence between 85 and 89 years. The number of patients more than doubled in France between 1990 and 2015, a phenomenon linked to the aging of the population and which should therefore increase further in the coming years.
As Inserm explains, Parkinson’s disease results from a progressive degeneration of dopamine neurons in the brain. It is a chronic disease whose evolution is slow and progressive. “The preclinical phase of the disease, before the appearance of the first symptoms, probably lasts several years. During this period, the brain compensates for the drop in dopamine through plasticity processes, allowing normal brain function.“, details Inserm. Generally, the first symptoms of the disease appear when 50 to 70% of the dopamine neurons are destroyed.
Three Motor Symptoms
What are the symptoms ? Parkinson’s disease is most often manifested by three specific motor symptoms. The first is akinesia, it is a difficulty in initiating movement accompanied by slowness of movement and/or hypokinesia (poor movement). “It is characterized by difficulty in fine movement, smaller handwriting (micrograph), slow and hesitant walking or difficulty turning over in bed“, explains Inserm. For his part, Doctor Christian Recchia qualifies it, at the microphone of Yahoo, “intense muscular fatigue, even in the morning on waking”. In addition, this disease is manifested by two other motor symptoms which are limb stiffness and tremor, with tremors “not always present,” according to Dr. Recchia.
Other non-motor symptoms are also present in patients with Parkinson’s disease: sleep disorders, loss of smell, cognitive disorders, balance disorders, pain. In addition, the disease can manifest itself in constipation, urgent urination, etc. “In some patients, behavioral disorders in REM sleep (sudden or even violent movements accompanying dreams) or digestive disorders appear several years before the motor impairment“, warns Inserm.
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