July 1, 2008

Parkinson’s Disease Progresses Differently for Different People


Dear Dr. Gott: I was diagnosed as having Parkinson's disease. While I've apparently had the condition for a long time, my posture is the same as it has been for many years. In fact, everything is the same.

Dear Reader: Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that occurs when nerve cells in a part of the brain die or become impaired.

Early symptoms are extremely subtle and vary. Some people might have difficulty getting out of a chair, handwriting might appear cramped, the sense of smell or memory might be affected, and irritability and depression might be observed.

More obvious symptoms include tremor of the hand or mouth, muscle rigidity, slowed movement, gait abnormality and urinary incontinence or constipation. Postural instability and other features may come into play as the disease progresses.

You don't indicate why your doctor has diagnosed you with Parkinson's, but you must be exhibiting some symptoms for him or her to have come to that conclusion. I suggest you make an appointment with a neurologist to discuss the matter. This type of specialist can confirm your diagnosis if you truly have Parkinson's. If not, he or she can order testing and then provide you with a new diagnosis.

Keep in mind that some Parkinson's sufferers have only mild cases that may take years to worsen, if at all. The other end of the spectrum is severe symptoms that may go from mild to severe and eventually lead to death in only a matter of months or a few years.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Parkinson's Disease." Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped, No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Write Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave. 4th floor, New York, NY 10016.

Originally published by PETER GOTT Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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