Legendary comedian Billy Connolly seems to laugh in the face of his Parkinsonâs symptoms. In 2013, the 73-year-old comedian and actor was diagnosed with Parkinsonâs disease and prostate cancer in the same week. On top of that he was also fitted for two hearing aids during that week. Fortunately, Connolly underwent successful prostate surgery, and by October of 2013 he was all clear of his prostate cancer.
âI donât fancy sitting in a church hall on a Wednesday night talking about it,â recalled Connolly about his Parkinsonâs diagnosis. âI stay positive just by getting on and going to workâ¦I had no intention of retiring.â Parkinsonâs disease hasnât stopped Connolly from making the films What We Did on Our Holiday and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
He remembers first telling his agent about his Parkinsonâs disease diagnosis. âMy agent said, âWhen am I booking you for a [comedy] tour? I said, âI donât know if I can.â He said, âOf course you can.â He nudged me over the cliff,â explained Connolly, who is a native of Scotland.
In 2015, Connolly toured Canada, New Zealand, and Scotland for some comedy shows. Connolly has even incorporated his Parkinsonâs symptoms into his act.
âWe were laughing about it because when the strain gets big, this hand starts to shake,â says Connolly, holding up his left hand at the time. âAnd Iâm like, âlook, look, look, look.â And I do it on stageâI show the audience this hand creeps up on me.â
What Studies Say About Parkinsonâs Symptoms
Parkinsonâs disease is considered one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, it affects over seven million people around the world, and about one million Americans. In the U.S., there are about 60,000 new Parkinsonâs cases reported every year.
Research is always being done to help understand the causes, Parkinsonâs progression symptoms, and potential treatments. Take, for example, these recent studies.
Heptachlor epoxide is a pesticide found in milk during the early 1980s. In a study from December 2015 published online in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, heptachlor epoxide was linked with Parkinsonâs symptoms. Long-term exposure to the pesticide is thought to cause convulsions and tremors.
What Are Early Signs and Symptoms of Parkinsonâs Disease?
Sometimes it can be tough to tell if you have Parkinsonâs disease. What are the early symptoms of Parkinsonâs disease? One single symptom doesnât necessarily indicate Parkinsonâs, but if you experience more than one, itâs a good idea to visit your doctor. The following are the top early Parkinsonâs symptoms.
- Tremor or shaking: People with Parkinsonâs disease will often notice a tremor or shaking. It will typically begin in a limb, often in the hand or fingers. The person may also consistently rub their thumb and forefinger together in a âpill rollingâ motion.
- Slowed movement: Slowed movement is also called bradykinesia. Parkinsonâs disease sufferers often have a decreased ability to move, making it difficult to complete simple tasks. They may also drag their feet when walking, steps may become shorter, and they may also have trouble getting out of a chair.
- Rigid muscles: One of the most common early Parkinsonâs symptoms includes a reduced arm swing on one side of the body when walking. Rigid muscles will cause this motion, and it can also affect the muscles of the neck, face, legs, or other parts of the body. Muscles may also feel achy and tired.
- Sleeping issues: People with Parkinsonâs disease may punch and kick while asleep. They may also fall out bed.
- Loss of smell: Is it harder to detect the smells of certain foods, like licorice or bananas? This may indicate Parkinsonâs disease.
- Masked face: The person may look serious, mad, or depressed. This is also called a masked face. A lack of blinking or having a blank stare may be an indication of Parkinsonâs disease.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms: Constipation or straining during bowel movements is considered one of the early Parkinsonâs symptoms. This symptom can also indicate that the person needs more fiber or water.
- Cognitive or mood problems: A person with Parkinsonâs disease may also experience cognitive issues like decision-making or problem-solving problems, or memory and attention span changes. Behavior and mood may also be altered, and anxiety, apathy, and depression are common.
- Speech changes: The person will also experience changes in speech, including speaking hoarsely, quickly or softly, or hesitating or slurring before they talk. They may think others are having trouble hearing them, but the reality is that they are speaking too softly, and Parkinsonâs disease may the problem.
- Changes in writing: A person with Parkinsonâs disease also finds it harder to write. Handwriting will appear much smaller than normal, letter sizes are smaller, or words look crowded together. But writing changes can also happen in older people with poor vision, or with stiff fingers or hands, so check with a doctor to be sure.
How to Treat Parkinsonâs Symptoms
Lifestyle is important for Parkinsonâs prevention. A study from 2014 found that an hour of moderate activity daily could significantly reduce your risk of Parkinsonâs disease. This can simply include brisk walking or household chores. Other ways to reduce your Parkinsonâs risk include reducing pesticide and chemical exposure, and also eating fresh and raw vegetables.
How do you treat Parkinsonâs symptoms? The most popular drug to treat Parkinsonâs symptoms is Sinemet. It contains two key ingredients called carbidopa and levodopa. Levodopa, or l-DOPA, is a middle step that converts the amino acid tyrosine into the neurotransmitter dopamine. Carbidopa works to ensure that more l-DOPA converts to dopamine in the brain. Unfortunately, these Parkinsonâs drugs are linked with side effects like nausea, vomiting, motor complications, sedation, delusions, and hallucinations.
The natural approach to treating Parkinson progression symptoms will help to reduce these side effects, while also protecting the neurons in the brain from further damage. In particular, coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that studies have found to reduce early Parkinsonâs symptoms. Other antioxidants used in Parkinsonâs treatment include vitamin C and vitamin E. Other natural Parkinsonâs disease treatment will include essential fatty acids, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), milk thistle, ginkgo biloba, green tea extract, intravenous glutathione treatment, calcium and magnesium, valerian, skullcap, and passion flower.
What to Do When Suffering from Parkinsonâs Symptoms
Whatâs the plan for early or end stage Parkinsonâs symptoms? Exercise can be a great way to treat Parkinsonâs symptoms. Exercises like tai chi and boxing have been found to be effective for Parkinsonâs symptoms. An exercise program for Parkinsonâs symptoms can also include yoga, lifting weights, and aerobic exercises like jogging or swimming. It also helps to have a positive outlook during any treatment for the condition.
Bodywork has also been found to effectively treat Parkinsonâs symptoms, including massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, and acupressure. Various studies have found that acupuncture has a neuroprotective effect in the treatment of Parkinsonâs disease, including a 2010 trial published in the journal Neurology Research.
Other Ways to Treat Parkinsonâs Symptoms
There are also other natural ways to treat Parkinsonâs symptoms. For instance, diet is also important. A low-protein diet has demonstrated to help enhance l-DOPA therapy. It is often recommended to eliminate most protein from breakfast and lunch while having a regular protein intake at dinner.
Homeopathy is also considered an effective treatment for Parkinsonâs symptoms. It is recommended to consult with a homeopath before taking a remedy. That said, common remedies for Parkinsonâs symptoms include argentum nitricum, causticum, gelsemium, helleborus, mercurius solubilis, natrum muriaticum, plumbum, and rhus toxicodendron.
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âParkinsonâs Disease â Symptoms,â WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/tc/parkinsons-disease-symptoms, last accessed February 2, 2016.
âBilly Connolly works to âstay positiveâ during Parkinsonâs battle,â Herald Entertainment web site, January 24, 2016; http://m.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11578856.
âStatistics on Parkinsonâs,â Parkinsonâs Disease Foundation web site;http://parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Causes-and-Statistics/Statistics, last accessed February 2, 2016.
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