How Common Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that impacts an estimated 10 million people worldwide and nearly one million Americans. The disease affects the motor and sensory functions of the body resulting in a variety of side effects ranging in severity as the disease progresses.
How rare is Parkinson’s disease, and what do you need to know? In this article, we’ll explain what Parkinson’s disease is and discuss how common PD is in the United States and globally.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that targets neurons that produce a specific category of neurons called dopaminergic neurons. That means that the neurons produce dopamine, which is important for managing a variety of motor and sensory functions throughout the body. These neurons are located in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but medical researchers believe that the cause of this condition is a combination of genetic factors and environmental exposure.
As a result of this condition, your body may have a difficult time producing dopamine. When this happens, a variety of symptoms can appear, and they are typically called Parkinson’s symptoms, or Parkinsonism. Typically, this is a condition that progresses gradually over many years, but this is a condition that can impact different people in different ways. The sooner people are diagnosed by a medical professional, the process can begin. This can make a significant difference in the outlook of the condition.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Tremor: People who have been diagnosed with this condition typically develop rhythmic shaking. It tends to start in a limb, such as the fingers or hand. Many people roll their thumb and forefinger together, which is recognized as a pill-rolling tremor. It is also possible that the hand may move when people are at rest. The shaking tends to get worse when someone tries to perform a task, such as reading or writing.
- Cogwheel Rigidity: Cogwheel rigidity is also common with this condition. This refers to someone having a difficult time moving the limbs. It may look like the person is changing gears, with repeated, abrupt movements followed by sudden stops. This rigidity can cause pain and could show up anywhere in the body.
- Bradykinesia: This is the medical term used to describe slow movements. As the condition gets worse, even simple tasks can take a long time. People take shorter steps when they walk, and they might have a hard time getting out of their chair. People with this condition may also shuffle their feet when they walk.
- Loss of Balance: Individuals with this condition may also have a difficult time balancing. People tend to bend over, and they have a markedly increased risk of falling as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
- Difficulty Speaking: People with this condition may have a difficult time speaking, particularly as the condition gets worse. For example, some individuals may speak softly, try to speak quickly, and could slur their words. People also have a more monotone speech pattern. They often have a difficult time with intonation as a result of a loss of muscle control.
These are just a few of the many symptoms that people could develop with Parkinson’s disease. This is a condition that can progress at different rates in different people, which is why it is critical to see a medical professional to learn more.
Statistics On Parkinson’s Disease
How common is Parkinson’s disease? Unfortunately, Parkinson’s is a relatively common neurological disorder that mainly impacts people who are of advanced age. According to The Parkinson’s Foundation:
- Close to one million people in the U.S. are living with Parkinson’s disease.
- This number is expected to increase to 1.2 million by 2030.
- Parkinson’s is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease, just after Alzheimer’s disease, which is a common form of dementia.
- Close to 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year.
- More than 10 million people across the world are living with this condition.
These numbers demonstrate that Parkinson’s disease is a common health concern, and many people may know someone who has been diagnosed with this disorder. Because it becomes more common as people age, older individuals should be especially vigilant of symptoms and seek medical care if signs of Parkinson’s arise.
Who Is At Risk Of Parkinson’s Disease?
Who gets Parkinson’s Disease? In general, this impacts people who are of advanced age; however, it can occur at just about any time. For example, the incidence of Parkinson’s disease generally goes up with age; however, about four percent of individuals who have been diagnosed with this condition receive the diagnosis before the age of 50.
In addition, Parkinson’s disease is more common in men than in women; however, it can impact both genders. Men are approximately 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with this condition when compared to women. There are several other examples of people who are more likely to be diagnosed with this condition. They include:
- Individuals with a close relative, such as a mother or father, who has been diagnosed with this condition are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition themselves.
- Individuals who have an immediate health history can also enroll in genetic screening for Parkinson’s. There are certain genes that doctors and researchers have identified that could make it more likely for someone to be diagnosed with this condition.
- There are specific environmental triggers or toxins that could increase the risk of this disorder later in life. The risk increase is small, but this could be something that people can discuss with their doctor.
This is just a brief overview of the risk factors that could make it more likely for someone to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Anyone who has questions or concerns about risk factors associated with this neurological condition should reach out to their doctor to learn more.
Parkinson’s Disease Treatment & Outlook
How rare is Parkinson’s disease, and what is the outlook? There are a few tests that could be used to diagnose Parkinson’s disease, but there is no set test that can confirm this disorder. A diagnosis is usually made using a combination of imaging scans and clinical symptoms.
Once a diagnosis is made, the treatment process can begin. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are treatment options that can slow the progression.
First, the doctor will generally make some recommendations regarding lifestyle changes that might be able to mitigate the rapid development of additional symptoms. For example, regular aerobic exercise can keep the muscles in shape, and balance classes could help someone reduce the risk of falling. Furthermore, a speech-language pathologist can help people preserve their ability to speak, and physical therapy can also help people maintain their strength and flexibility.
Medications are also available for people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Most of these medications are designed to make it easier for people to walk and move, and medications are also prescribed to help people increase their levels of dopamine. By increasing dopamine levels in the brain, it may be possible to slow the progression of certain symptoms. Keep in mind that these medications can also lead to side effects, which is why it is critical for people to talk with their doctors before taking these medications for the first time.
Typically, Parkinson’s disease is a condition that progresses over a period of years, so regular visits to the doctor will be important for evaluating the course of treatment and seeing if the treatment plan needs to be adjusted over time.
Parkinson’s Disease & Essential Tremor
In addition to understanding the outlook and frequency of Parkinson’s it is important to take a closer look atEssential Tremor vs. Parkinsons. Even thoughhand tremor is associated with both conditions, they are not the same. While people with Essential Tremor might think that they have Parkinson’s disease, the two are often confused for the same disorder but are in fact very different.
Some of the differences to keep in mind include:
- Tremor Timing: The timing of the tremors is different. With Parkinson’s disease, the tremors tend to show up with the hands at the sides or placed in your lap. With an Essential Tremor, the tremor typically takes place when you try to use your hands to do something.
- The Part of the Body: With Parkinson’s disease, the tremor usually starts in the hands, but spreads to other parts of the body, such as the legs and chin. In contrast, Essential Tremor usually starts in the hands, but it does not spread to the legs or other parts of the body.
- Other Symptoms and Conditions: Finally, an Essential Tremor does not have the other symptoms that Parkinson’s disease presents with. People with Parkinson’s disease also have a difficult time walking, standing up straight, and balancing. People with Essential Tremor usually do not have balance issues.
This is just a brief overview of the differences between the two conditions. Anyone who has questions about this should reach out to their doctor for clarification.
Cala TAPS therapy Can Be An Effective Treatment Option For Essential Tremor
There are treatment options available for people who have been diagnosed with either Essential Tremor or Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is usually treated with a combination of prescription medication, therapy and surgery.
Medications are also available for people who have been diagnosed with Essential Tremor, however, another effective treatment option is Cala TAPS therapy delivered by the Cala Trio device. Cala therapy is delivered using a noninvasive wristworn device that temporarily relieves Essential Tremor symptoms by stimulating electrical activity in the brain, thereby, reducing hand tremor symptoms.
Anyone who has questions or concerns about their treatment plan should reach out to a doctor to learn more. Treatment options such as Cala TAPS therapy for Essential Tremor could make a significant difference in your quality of life.