Parkinson’s, a very individual disease


One thing you can count on with Parkinson’s is its individuality. No two people with Parkinson’s will manifest the same symptoms in exactly the same way.  No two people take exactly the same meds for the disease or in the same dosages. It’s a very “individual” disease.

We can however, talk about symptoms and medications and that are typical of the disease. For instance, most people take some form of Sinemet, a formulation of carbidopa/Levadopa. This drug provides dopamine to the brain to replace what was lost with Parkinson’s. (Dopamine is the feel good hormone that everyone has to have. Parkinson’s depletes it almost completely.)

The drug replaces the lost dopamine by mixing the levodopa with carbidopa which helps more of the levadopa get to the brain in a timely fashion. These tablets come in various sizes and doses so the doctor can tweek the dosage to fit the person. There are also various kinds of what is known as dopamine agonists, drugs that help the Sinemet work better. All of these drugs are for the purpose of lessening the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

These are some of the typical symptoms that benefit from the use of the drugs. (Unlike many chronic diseases, PD has no definitive test to identify it. So the diagnosis must be by symptoms.)

Ttrembling can be halted or at least slowed by using the sinemet in the right doses with an agonist such as Neupro (which comes in patch form and is worn for 24 hours a day) or others, such as mirapex.

Bradykinesia slowness of movement and the inability to adjust the body’s position.

This also can be controlled somewhat with sinemet and maybe an agonist.

Ddyskinesias Uncontrolled random movements. These are usually symptoms of long term usage of meds and can be helped somewhat by changing or increasing some meds and decreasing others.

Dystonia sudden uncontrollable cramps in arms, legs, neck, etc.

Sometimes this can be helped by increasing the meds temporarily.

These are the most common symptoms that one is likely to encounter. Medication usually controls most of these, at least for a time. Notice that medication controls symptoms, it does not cure. At the present time there is no cure for Parkinson’s and the symptoms keep getting more prevalent the longer the disease goes. Of course, again, this is an individual thing. Some people’s symptoms progress faster than others.

However, along with the medications, there is another way to help control symptoms and that is positive thinking. This may sound like mumbo jumbo, but if you can get yourself to do it, it works. I’ll talk more about it next week.

If you have Parkinson’s or know someone who does, come meet with us at the Parkinson’s support group at St. John’s Episcopal Church on the corner of Hill and Oak at 10 am each Friday morning starting June 8.  (If you’re shy about coming because it’s at a church, don’t be, the church is not sponsoring it. They just provide a place for us to meet.) You’ll find out you’re not alone in your struggle.

Patricia Romero can be reached at 928-425-6218 or e mail at [email protected]

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