Open Accessibility Menu

Breaking down the facts about Parkinson’s disease treatment

Breaking down the facts about Parkinson’s disease treatment

Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women. What should men know about Parkinson’s disease treatment and symptoms? Keep reading.

Making sense of Parkinson’s disease

First off, what is Parkinson’s disease? The condition affects more than one aspect of health. It is a neurological condition, meaning it affects the brain and the nerves, and it’s a movement disorder, meaning it affects how the body moves.

It’s also part of a group known as neurodegenerative disorders, meaning it worsens over time and causes cells in the nervous system to stop working.

Parkinson’s disease occurs when the brain cells that make dopamine stop working or die off. Dopamine is a chemical that’s responsible for the nerve and muscle cells that coordinate your body’s movements. When the body stops producing dopamine, your movement is disrupted.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease typically appear slowly over time and may only affect one side of the body at first.

The most noticeable symptoms are movement-related and can include muscle stiffness, slowed movements and an involuntary tremor when at rest. As the condition progresses, other movement-related symptoms may occur, including the freezing of gait, which is a temporary inability to move the feet forward.

Parkinson’s disease also impacts the body in other ways, causing non-movement symptoms, such as constipation, erectile dysfunction, low blood pressure and urinary problems. Those who have the condition may also be cognitively impaired, particularly in later stages. Mild cognitive impairment is common, and dementia can also develop.

Parkinson’s disease in men vs. women

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to Parkinson’s disease. Take the disease risk factors, for example. There are only two prominent risk factors—being of advanced age and being male.

It’s thought that the condition may have genetic and environmental causes, but those causes aren’t absolute. For example, Parkinson’s disease has a genetic component, but the genetic mutations responsible for the condition are present in only a minority of people who develop Parkinson’s.

What is known is that the two sexes experience Parkinson’s disease differently. The incidence of Parkinson’s disease in men is nearly double that of women, but women show a much more rapid progression of symptoms and have a higher mortality rate. While these are known and observable facts, researchers don’t really know why there are such striking differences. Further research is needed to determine why there’s a difference, if it’s linked to sex hormones, and how to better treat the condition in both men and women.

Treating Parkinson’s disease

While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, multiple treatment options are designed to treat the underlying cause and alleviate symptoms.

Medications may be used to increase dopamine production in the brain, to assist neurotransmitters in the brain in communicating or to treat symptoms, including frequent urination and low blood pressure. Other medications can be used to reduce the effects of a tremor or stop involuntary muscle movements, such as an eye twitch.

Your medical provider may also recommend intensive rehabilitation. Depending on your individual symptoms, physical, occupational or speech therapy may help alleviate symptoms and prevent a decline in function.

In cases where medications and other noninvasive treatments do not provide relief, deep brain stimulation may be recommended. During this surgical procedure, electrodes are placed in the brain and connected to an electrical device in the chest. The electrodes then provide painless stimulation to the parts of the brain that control movement, which can help with tremors, slowed movement and rigid muscles.

In addition to these treatment options, other therapies may also be recommended, including massage for tense muscles and activities like yoga to increase flexibility.

When you’re diagnosed with a neurological condition like Parkinson’s disease, you want a team of experts providing your care. The team at the Neuroscience Institute at LCMC Health has the expertise you need.