April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month!
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition and after Alzheimer’s is the second most common disease in the United States.
Neurodegenerative is a term that refers to a progressive loss of nerve cells and/or their function. Neurodegeneration from Parkinson’s disease can give rise to a wide spectrum of symptoms; symptoms can vary widely between people in terms of their type and severity.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- difficulties with balance, swallowing, chewing and speaking
- sleep disruption
- psychological issues including problems with cognition, anxiety and depression
One of the most noticeable symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is a tremor in which the body makes involuntary quivering movements. As the disease progresses, symptoms can worsen. For example, over time a person may not be able to move, speak or swallow. This can often arise 4-8 years after the initial onset of Parkinson’s disease. The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown and there are no known successful treatments that can delay or stop its progression.
How can you help?
- Reach out to someone with Parkinson’s. If you know someone in your family, social circle or community with Parkinson’s, consider reaching out to them.
- Educate yourself and others. This disease is not limited to the tremor that mostly defines the general public’s understanding of the disease. What is less known is the pervasiveness of Parkinson’s, how it causes everything from mood disorder such as depression and anxiety, dementia, urinary incontinence, constipation, swallowing difficulties, pain and sleep disorders to name but a few.
- Raise money for research. Consider supporting fundraising events for Parkinson’s disease or raise money on your own accord. It takes a significant amount of money for a drug to make it from the lab to the pharmacy shelf.