Parkinson’s is a progressive illness that affects the central nervous system. The disease is not easily detected at its early stages. Still, some of the symptoms include impaired balance, lack of limb coordination, and limps and trunk being rigid. Other common signs to look for are depression, sleep disturbance, and loss of smell.
When we feel a little under the weather, we get checked to ascertain what is wrong. A medical check-up first is done to rule out a few things; however, young-onset Parkinson (YOPD) can go undiagnosed for a long time unless you have recurring symptoms. It usually occurs to people under the age of 40.
Understanding The Disease
Parkinson’s is a disease of the central nervous system that is progressive. It is caused by the loss of a cell in the brain which produces dopamine. Though commonly diagnosed in people at the age of 60, 4% of 1 million people with PD are under 50. In unusual cases, you may encounter patients as young as 20 with PD. This is called Juvenile Parkinson disease.
How Common Is YOPD
It is not a rarity to encounter young people up to age 30 with PD. 10% of patients with PD are under the age of 40. However, a more significant percentage of patients with PD are people 50 and older.
It’s common to have people from the age of 30 diagnosed with PD, also called YOPD. However, many YOPD patients have it because of family health genetics with the disease.
There are other patients diagnosed with the same and come from families who have never had a history of PD. Generic factors can cause YOPD, but environmental factors are also involved and play a role.
Sometimes even both factors can contribute to the early onset of the illness. Environmental factors include exposure to chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides for more extended periods.
Symptoms And Early Onset
Some of the symptoms that occur to people age 30 and above can go undiagnosed. This is because the symptoms are usually not that severe to think at the early stages of YOPD. Unless, of course, it is generic, and one is aware of it being in the family. With that knowledge, it can be diagnosed easily.
Below are some of the main symptoms to look out for;
• Impaired balance
• Lack of limbs coordination
• Limps and trunk being rigid
• Bradykinesia (slowed movement)
• Experiencing tremors on the face and jaw, arms, and hands
It is often possible for people with YOPD to experience similar non-motor symptoms as patients with PD;
• Problems with urinary
• Thinking and memory changes
• Sleep disturbance
• Loss of smell
• Experiencing low blood pressure when standing up
• Change in sex drive
• Weight fluctuations
Reasons Why YOPD Is Different
One of the main differences between early-onset Parkinson’s is that a more significant percentage of patients with YOPD comes from a family health history with PD. However, being diagnosed early makes it easier to cope and treat the disease.
For people living with YOPD they may also experience;
• Increased dopaminergic medicine side effects
• The progression of PD symptoms is slower
• Frequent abnormal postures and cramping (such as the foot aching)
All hope is not lost as there are treatments that help and the management of the disease. The treatments’ primary role is to slow down the progression of the disease.
Treatments may include;
• Amantadine – this can be used to help in improving control of the muscles as well as stiffness relieve
• Levodopa – it is a chemical converted to dopamine in the brain
• Anticholigenics – helps with the reduction of tremor
• DBS (deep brain stimulation) is a surgical procedure where electrodes connected to the pre-set generator send electrical simulators to the brain.
Physical exercise is a critical intervention to manage YOPD symptoms. Daily exercises from a simple walk or light workout can go a long way. Movement is key as the more a person is stagnant, the worse their condition can get.
This disease is a well-known chronic disease that unfortunately does not have a cure. However, the treatments available, disease management, and exercise have made slowing down the progression easier. If the condition has been diagnosed in its earlier stages, treatment is even better.
If you have issues with your nerves or feel that something is not right. Always seek help from a medical professional.