Debunking common myths about Parkinson's
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25, January 2024

Debunking common myths about Parkinson's

Living with Parkinson's Disease can be quite challenging at times, as the neurodegenerative condition drastically impacts a person’s motor functions, giving rise to many deficits which affect the ability to indulge in normal, day-to-day activities. If you, or someone you know, is living with the problem, you would be familiar with these challenges and know how debilitating these can be. However, it is not only the daily challenges that one has to worry about but also the myths and misconceptions that have been long associated with the disease. In this blog, we have debunked some such myths, to help you understand more about the disease. Continue reading. 

Debunking the Myths

Myth: Parkinson's disease only affects motor functions 

Fact: One of the most common misconceptions about Parkinson's disease is that it only impacts a person's motor function which is responsible for controlling and coordinating muscle moments. While it is true that the disease impairs motor function, its impact can also go beyond that. People with Parkinson's disease may also experience non-motor symptoms, i.e. those which are not related to movement. These include pain, fatigue, bladder problems, bowel issues, vision problems, sleep disturbance, anxiety, dementia, hallucinations and so on. Not to forget, the symptoms can be as debilitating as the motor symptoms and tend to aggravate as the disease progresses. 

Myth: Parkinson's disease only affects elderly people

Fact: Many people believe that Parkinson's disease is a result of age-related wear and tear of neurons. Undoubtedly, age happens to be one of the major risk factors, with the incidence being higher in people who are above 50 years of age. This, however, does not mean that people who are young do not get Parkinson's disease. The disease can be seen in people of all age groups and the incidence may vary significantly. It not only affects young adults but small children as well. The odds increase as you grow old. People who are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease before they reach 50 years of age are said to have an early onset of the disease. 

Myth: Parkinson's disease is caused by genetic factors only

Fact: Parkinson's disease is caused by the gradual degeneration of the neurons in a specific part of the brain known as substantia nigra. In almost 10 per cent of the cases, this is linked to genetic factors, however, environmental factors play a more significant role. In fact, the disease can be a result of a combination of both of these factors. So, Parkinson's disease is not solely genetic. Some of the common environmental risk factors that are known to increase the risks of developing Parkinson's disease include traumatic brain injury, exposure to certain metals, exposure to solvents like trichloroethylene, and exposure to toxic pesticides and herbicides such as Paraquat. The risks are also higher if you are a female or above 60 years of age. 

Myth: Parkinson’s disease is life-threatening

Fact: Contrary to what a lot of people think, Parkinson’s disease is not life-threatening or fatal. In fact, a lot of people suffering from it tend to have a normal life expectancy. Unlike other serious conditions like stroke and heart attack, Parkinson's disease does not cause direct fatality. How the disease impacts your life in the long run depends on a variety of different factors including the quality of treatment and the age of the patient. The disease can influence other factors that can have serious consequences for instance it can make a person more susceptible to falls. This might not be an issue for young adults but it can lead to serious injuries in elderly people. As long as you are taking all the necessary precautions and following all the guidelines, you are good to go. 

Myth: The medication taken for Parkinson's disease can give rise to other debilitating symptoms

Fact: There is a popular misconception that the medication that is prescribed for the management of motor symptoms in patients with Parkinson's disease can make the disease progress at a faster pace. Despite the fact that this myth has been debunked by experts through clinical research a lot of times, it is still believed by some people. It is important to understand that the drug therapy given for Parkinson's is not toxic and can effectively help to reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of the patient's life. By believing this myth, you are only lowering your chances of leading an improved life.

Myth: People with Parkinson's disease may experience spontaneous flare-ups

Fact: No doubt the symptoms of Parkinson's disease can fluctuate, however, it is important to understand that there are no flare-ups or sudden onset of symptoms as in the case of other neurological disorders like epilepsy. Parkinson's disease is a progressive condition and it can take months and years for the symptoms to aggravate. There are certain factors that may also cause the symptoms to worsen. Knowing about these and managing them in the right way with expert guidance from your doctor can help. 

Myth: Parkinson's treatment becomes ineffective after some years 

Fact: Parkinson's disease cannot be cured but people suffering from the condition can live a meaningful and quality life with proper treatment. Some people believe that this treatment works for around 5 years and then it becomes ineffective. Fortunately, this is not true at all. You can continue the parkinson's treatment for decades and it will definitely help you manage the problem. It is also important to understand that as the condition aggravates and the symptoms worsen, the treatment may work for a shorter span of time as compared to earlier. This, however, has nothing to do with the ineffectiveness of the treatment. 

Myth: The progress of Parkinson's disease can be precisely predicted

Fact: Parkinson’s disease does not affect everyone in the same way. Whether it is the type of symptoms or their severity, it can all vary from one person to another and as such it is not possible to predict how it is going to affect a person in the long run. The symptoms associated with the disease are known, however, not all patients are going to experience every single one of them. The disease can manifest in different ways and progress at varied paces. It is due to this very reason that people with Parkinson's disease need to be monitored on a regular basis, to understand different stages of progression and plan the treatment accordingly. 

Myth: If you are suffering from Parkinson's disease you will definitely have tremors

Fact: Tremors happen to be one of the most common and recognisable symptoms experienced by people with Parkinson's disease, however, it is not a mandatory symptom. It is quite possible that a person suffering from the condition might not experience any tremors at all. This can happen in almost 20 per cent of the cases. Some patients may start experiencing the symptoms years after being diagnosed. Patients with Parkinson’s may experience other symptoms like bladder problems, bradykinesia, constipation, sleep disorders and swallowing difficulties.

Myth: Medication is the only treatment for Parkinson’s disease

Fact: If you think meditation is the only treatment that can help you manage Parkinson's disease you are wrong. Over the years there has been significant improvement in the field of neurosciences, especially with the advent of treatments like the brain stimulation that serves as a beacon of hope for patients with Parkinson's disease. The treatment works by stimulating certain areas of the brain and helps improve functions. Deep brain stimulation is a phenomenal treatment that has helped countless patients suffering from the condition. It is offered at all the leading hospitals in India. 

To know more about Parkinson’s disease and its management, consult the top experts in India at IBS Hospital. Call now, to book your consultation. 

Dr Aaksha Shukla By -Dr Aaksha Shukla | January 25, 2024 | 9 Min Read

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