Who can develop Parkinson's disease?
It is not possible to predict who can be affected by Parkinson's disease. Generally, both men and women can be affected equally. On an average, symptoms first appear when a patient is older than 50. This is a disease which cannot be prevented from occurring.
Sometimes, one can be affected under the age of 40 and although the condition is clinically the same, treatment options may differ.
Occurrence in India -
According to Professor N.H. Wadia, Director, Department of Neurology, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai, studies show that the prevalence of Parkinson's disease is the lowest among Nigerians, followed by Chinese, Japanese, Afro-Americans and Indians. The prevalence rate is higher in Western countries. For example, the incidence of the disease among Italians is 11 times higher than among the Chinese. The prevalence of Parkinson's disease varies across communities too. For instance, in India, the incidence of the disease is higher among Parsis.
In India, the crude age-adjusted prevalence rate of Parkinson's disease per 100,000 population is 14 in northern India, 27 in the south and 16 in the east, while it is 363 for Parsis in Mumbai. The rate is 100 to 200 in the U.K.
Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease -
- Parkinson's disease can have an insidious onset that often the family members notice the change earlier than the patient.
- Loss of spontaneous smiling is visible (i.e. patient has a mask-like face); absence of eye blinking & slowing of activities of daily living.
- Noticeable increase in the length of time it takes for the patient to get up from sitting or reclining posture and for dressing.
- Longer time to finish meals.
- Vague aches and pains in the body & stiffness in the joints which, in a 60 to 70 year old, are often passed off as symptoms of "old age".
- The disease has slow progress and many patients may be static for several years & can carry on with their profession without any problems.
- The handwriting becomes smaller (micrographia).
- The voice becomes softer and speech becomes monotonous. It appears that the patient is whispering instead of talking aloud.
- The patient may have drooling of saliva from the mouth requiring repeated wiping of the lips and the mouth.
- Constipation is a common problem of Parkinson's disease.
Diet and Nutritional Needs -
Patients of Parkinson's disease do not require a special diet; however, it is important that they have well-balanced, nutritious meals. They must ensure that they:
- Have well balanced meals with foods from all food groups
- Maintain their weight to an optimum level
- Keep away from foods high in fat
- Limit the intake of sugar and salt
- Have 8-10 glasses of water daily
- Stay away from alcohol
- Cut down on caffeine and carbonated beverages
Patients may suffer from nausea and may not feel like eating. It is important to make meal times as comfortable and pleasurable as possible. Where and how you eat is as important as what you eat.
- Try not to eat alone.
- Eat and drink slowly
- Have small frequent meals
- Avoid very hot or very cold food
- Eat light and bland foods.
- Well cooked and soft meals are better. Try to make foods with a lot of gravies but ensure that they are bland.
- Avoid all kinds of irritants in foods. Let your foods be soft, mildly spiced, and at room temperature
Parkinson's patients may not be getting enough nutrients from what you eat. Speak to your doctor or nutritionist about supplements or energy providing shakes or drinks that the patient can have. In case you notice sudden or unexplained weight gain or weight loss, do consult your doctor.
Patients may not feel like eating but their nutrient requirements remain high. Ensure that their meals are interesting, appetizing and nutrient dense.
Exercise Regimen for Parkinson's Disease Patients -
Patients suffering from Parkinson's tend to become inactive. To avoid the vicious circle of inactivity and inability the following can be implemented:
- Begin to exercise before the secondary changes occur & become permanent. Tell yourself that you have to keep your body free of rust. Be active. Make yourself useful.
- Start a stretching & postural exercise program. This will promote improved chest expansion and ensure flexibility of muscles & joints.
- Begin a deep-breathing & relaxation program. This will improve chest expansion & general well being.