Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that is the result of the loss or damage of nerve cells that produce dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that allows coordinated function of muscles and movement, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. Tremors, or trembling in the limbs and face, are one of the primary symptoms of the disease. The other three primary symptoms are rigidity or stiffness, slowness of movement and impaired balance, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Tremors, along with the other symptoms of Parkinson's, can affect a patient's daily life, making it difficult to walk, talk and do simple tasks. There is no cure for the disease, but there are ways to help reduce the tremors.
Take medications to help control your tremors. Levodopa is the most effective drug, medical researchers at Mayo Clinic say. It goes into the brain and is converted to dopamine. It combines with another drug, carbidopa, which delays the conversion until levodopa goes into the brain. This medication helps the majority of patients with their symptoms but may not reduce all the symptoms equally. Rigidity and slowness tend to respond the best to the drug, according to NINDS.
Anticholinergics are also used to help control the tremor. There are a number of different medications available, such as benztropine. However, there are side effects to be aware of, such as confusion and hallucinations.
There are other drugs that imitate dopamine in the brain, causing nerve cells to react as they would to dopamine. Also, an antiviral medication called amantadine is used to relieve symptoms.
Use physical therapy if advised by your doctor. Exercise is very important, because tremors and slowness of movement can cause your general health to weaken. Exercise can help improve your range of motion and strength. If the tremors are affecting your speech, a speech therapist can help improve it.
Consider a surgical treatment. There is a procedure called deep brain stimulation that is commonly used for Parkinson's patients. Tremor is often very responsive to the treatment, according to Mayo Clinic. It is generally used when patients don't have regular responses to levodopa treatment. It involves an electrode placed into parts of the brain where movement is controlled. There are, of course, risks associated with brain surgery. Consult a neurologist and brain surgeon.
Parkinson's disease can be difficult to diagnose. Blood tests and MRI testing can be used to rule out other diseases. If you suspect you have Parkinson's, see a neurologist who specializes in the disease, as suggested by the National Parkinson Foundation.
Like other chronic illnesses, Parkinson's disease will likely interfere with your daily life and cause difficulties in addition to the symptoms. These can include anxiety, frustration and depression. Consult a physician, and be very open to talking with your employer, family and friends about your disease.