Frequently Asked Questions
Get the answers to commonly asked questions relating to Parkinson’s Disease
A progressive neurological disorder mainly affecting movement. Progression, symptoms & treatment varies from one person to the next. It is the second most common neurodegenerative condition.
A chemical responsible for movement and transmission of signals in brain & other vital areas. We all lose some Dopamine as we age but in Parkinson’s this chemical is lost at a faster rate than others.
The vast majority of Parkinson’s is known as idiopathic (no known cause). However there is a small number of cases linked to genetics. Researchers believe the cause is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People diagnosed at a younger age are more likely to have a genetic link.
If possible, diagnosis and care of your Parkinson’s should be by a Consultant Neurologist or Geriatrician in conjunction with your GP. Ideally the Consultant should have a special interest in Parkinson’s and have access to a Parkinson’s Disease Nurse Specialist (PDNS), Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist and Speech and Language Therapist.
There is currently no cure. In the last 20 years there has been significant improvement in the treatment of Parkinson’s symptoms. There is currently s lot of research into the causes of Parkinson’s. The ultimate goal of this research is to slow the progression of the disease and possibly cure Parkinson’s disease altogether.
No blood test, brain scan or other test can be used to make a definitive diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
- diagnosed “clinically”- assessment, medical history and a physical examination.
- Keep a diary of symptoms
Symptoms can vary person to person. Diagnosis can be a prolonged process for some.
A brain imaging test that captures detailed pictures of the dopamine system in the brain. Can’t diagnose Parkinson’s on its own and not everyone with suspected Parkinson’s needs this test.
In some cases, though, such as when it’s difficult to distinguish Parkinson’s tremor from essential tremor (another common movement disorder), this can be a helpful addition.
- Be prepared with list of questions
- Up to date list of current medications
- Bring diary of symptoms if documented
- Have family member or friend present to help take any information on board
- Next appointment date
- DO you need new prescription or repeat script?
Avoid meals with medications
- Ensure medications at same time each day
- 30 mins pre food / 90 mins post food
- Levodopa absorbed in jejunum- flush down with one full glass water
Alcohol in moderation is unlikely to have a harmful effect. If you have been advised by your consultant to avoid alcohol please follow advise.
- People can respond in different way to alcohol so be aware of this and consult with neurologist.
- Avoid binge drinking
- Recommended by Dept of Health per week:
- 11 standard drinks (women)
- 17 Standard drinks (men)
- half pint larger/beer/cider
- 100mls wine
- One pub measure spirits
- beneficial although they will not provide a cure
- Should not be used instead of medication prescribed by your doctor
- May provide relief from symptoms and an increased sense of wellbeing
- Some treatments can be quite relaxing and help lift your mood.
- Always check with your GP, specialist, or Parkinson’s Disease Nurse Specialist before you try any complementary therapy
It is however important to remember that just because a therapy is described as ’natural’ does not automatically mean it is safe. Some complementary therapies have side effects or can be harmful if provided by untrained practitioners. Sometimes they can clash with your prescribed medicines or treatment. Your usual medicines have been tested in clinical studies. Before a medicine is available for doctors to prescribe, it must meet scientific standards to prove it is effective, safe, and high quality. There is not nearly as much evidence for complementary therapies. There are fewer studies and they do not always have the same scientific strength. Some therapies have been tested more than others.
- Try to exercise regularly doing something you enjoy
- beneficial in managing symptoms and easing any discomfort.
- It may also promote your level of wellbeing and quality of life.
- It is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain as well as encouraging new brain cells.
- Maintains flexibility
- Improves balance
- Improves muscle strength
- Improves general functioning
- Improves fitness and stamina.
- Provides a sense of achievement and empowerment
- Reduces stress and anxiety
There is also emerging data to suggest that playing sports games on computer consoles may offer a fun and motivational way of maintaining beneficial exercise regimes at home.
If you feel your movement is not good enough to take any form of exercise ask to be referred to a physiotherapist who will be able to work with you to improve your mobility.
- Inform staff of Parkinson’s diagnosis
- Up to date list of current medications
- Bring medications and supplies with you
- Request staff inform Parkinson’s CNS of your admission if one present in unit
- Information regarding beneﬁts which may be available to you and your family can be obtained from the Citizen’s Information website, your local Citizen’s Information Centre
- government’s website providing information on public services
- social welfare information website
How you inform your employer and how Parkinson’s affects your work is an individual decision. You may be required to notify your employer if your condition may have an impact on health & safety in the workplace. It is your decision as to whether you tell your colleagues. They may be a source of support and assistance. Citizen information centre is a good source of information relating to employment rights. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease does not necessarily mean you have to stop work and most of the time patient’s are able to continue their employment and career for many years.
Having Parkinson’s should not stop you travelling. Pack medications in your hand luggage, a letter from your physician and copy of your prescription may be useful/ Ensure you have a sufficient supply of medications for length of stay plus emergency supply in case of delays. Good planning and research around your trip may be beneficial; knowing what provisions are in place in accommodation if required and contacting airport/ airlines in advance if further assistance is necessary.