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What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?

By Rick Cohen, 8:00 am on

If you have a loved one with Parkinson’s disease, or a parent or family member who has recently been diagnosed, you’re likely wondering what causes the disease. Today, Home Care Assistance of Milwaukee is going to explore the basics of Parkinson’s – the more you know, the better you’ll be able to care for and manage the symptoms of your loved one’s condition.

Named after English doctor James Parkinson, Parkinson’s disease doesn’t have one specific root cause that has been identified. Symptoms begin to develop after nerve cells in the brain responsible for controlling movement either become impaired or die off entirely, resulting in the reduced production of chemical messengers. While this is essentially what contributes to Parkinson’s disease, there are other possible contributing factors that have been identified through research.

Loss of Chemical Messengers

In addition to the loss of the chemical messenger dopamine (responsible for movement), research suggests the inability to produce significant amounts of the chemical messenger norepinephrine may also contribute to some symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Norepinephrine affects the sympathetic nervous system, controlling the body’s automatic features such as heart rate and blood pressure. Reduced production of both dopamine and norepinephrine may cause symptoms ranging from extreme fatigue to a loss of balance.

Genetic Mutations

It’s now widely believed that Parkinson’s is not genetic, as in passed down from generation to generation, but is instead the result of genetic mutations that randomly occur. Scientists, already having confirmed several genetic mutations linked to the disease, believe that there are other genetic connections that have yet to be discovered. Additional genetic factors may include certain viruses and a buildup of harmful proteins.

Environmental Exposures

Researchers also contend that certain environmental exposures may contribute to the genetic mutations responsible for the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Some scientists are exploring the possibility that certain toxins may cause or worsen certain symptoms commonly associated with Parkinson’s.

Confirming a Diagnosis and Moving Forward

Doctors rely on a thorough neurological examination that includes brain scans to rule out other possible causes of symptoms a patient is exhibiting. The exclusion of other possible conditions coupled with visible signs of motor impairment is what typically confirms a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

If your aging parent or loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it’s best to start planning for their care needs as soon as possible. While certain symptoms can be controlled and effectively managed with medications, certain daily activities will naturally become difficult and even dangerous to perform. It’s important to have a long-term care plan in place that includes assistance from friends, family and possible support services like live-in or hourly home care in Milwaukee.

To request more information about senior home care, reach out to Home Care Assistance today. We specialize in Parkinson’s home care in Milwaukee and have a team of highly trained and compassionate caregivers who are available 24/7. Call us at 414-964-8000 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation with a friendly Care Manager.

What Causes Parkinson's Disease? | Home Care Assistance Milwaukee