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Chronic Debilitating Diseases

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Chronic debilitating diseases refer to those diseases or disorders that affect individuals for a long time as they reduce the vitality, robustness, or strength of the body (Stone, 2011). Research has shown that aged people have a higher likelihood of developing chronic debilitating diseases or disorders than younger people do. Some of these diseases include stroke, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, pneumonia, diabetes, just to mention a few (Waters, 2008). This discussion will consider Parkinson’s disease, its impacts on healthcare organizations, effects on the role of nurses and physicians, and prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.       

Parkinson Disease

Parkinson’s disease refers to a mental degeneration condition that takes place when the substantia niagra in the brain become impaired or die (Waters, 2008). These nerve cells produce dopamine, which is a crucial chemical for allowing coordinated and smooth function of the muscles in the body. Parkinson disease’s symptoms appear when about 70 percent of the cells that produce dopamine undergo degeneration (Stone, 2011). Development of the symptoms is slow and progresses gradually over many years. However, the use of medication can considerably alleviate the symptoms. Parkinson’s disease is common among the aged population because their central nervous system have become weaker than that of young people. It is necessary to consider the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and prevention and treatment of Parkinson’s disease in order to have a better understanding regarding this disease.

Causes of Parkinson Disease

Parkinson’s disease occurs because of deficiency of dopamine as the concerned brain cells die or degenerate (Stone, 2011). Therefore, a number of symptoms occur when the chemical messenger lacks or become deficient in the brain, which scientists have not yet discovered its causes. Research has shown that low levels of norepinephrine may also lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease among the adult population (Stone, 2011). Researchers have found that Parkinson’s disease may develop because of faulty genes and unfavorable environmental factors.

In most people, Parkinson's disease arises in a sporadic manner without a clear cause, which means that the disease is idiopathic (Waters, 2008). However, quite a number of people have close relatives who are suffering from Parkinson's disease. Research has shown that this disease is hereditary and, thus, the progeny has a high likelihood of having Parkinson’s disease once individuals are forty years or older (Stone, 2011). By carrying on research on families that have hereditary Parkinson's disease, researchers have identified a number of genes that have a close association with this disorder. Studies on these genes are extremely significant because they help individuals understand the causes of Parkinson's disease as well as the discovery of effective drugs to treat the disorder (Stone, 2011).

Exposure to some viruses or toxins may lead to the emergency of Parkinson's symptoms and signs. Studies have shown that rural areas, domestic consumption of well water, and exposure to paper mills, pesticides, or herbicides may increase a person’s likelihood of developing this disorder (Stone, 2011).

Symptoms of Parkinson Disease

Parkinson’s disease has both primary and secondary symptoms. The primary symptoms have a close association with involuntary and voluntary motor function. At first symptoms are moderate, but may become complex over time (Factor & Weiner, 2008). People experience symptoms differently with some experiencing severe symptoms when in other people the symptoms are mild. Research has shown that primary symptoms will appear when patients have lost about 60 percent or more of the cells that produce dopamine in the brain (Stone, 2011). The motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include tremors, rigidity, Bradykinesia, postural instability, and parkinsonian gait. Some of the secondary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are anxiety, memory loss, depression, constipation, and increased sweating.

Tremors include trembling in hands, fingers, arms, legs, feet, head, or jaw. Patients most often tremors experience while resting, but not when performing a task. When the patient is tired or excited, tremors may become worse (Stone, 2011). Another symptom that patients display is rigidity, which is the stiffness of the trunk and limbs. The stiffness may increase when the patient moves. Rigidity may lead to aches and pain in muscle especially when the muscles undergoes contraction and expansion due to movement (Stone, 2011). Bradykinesia is another symptom of Parkinson’s disease in which the patient’s voluntary movement becomes extremely slow. Over time, the patient may not be ble to move efficiently because the muscular contraction and expansion may fail altogether. Bradykinesia and stiffness can have an effect on the facial muscles, resulting in an unexpressive appearance. Patients may also display postural instability, which is the inability to maintain balance due to impairment of reflexes (Stone, 2011). The patient may fall because of postural instability and, thus, people should assist them so that they do not obtain injuries. Over time, patients develop Parkinsonian gait, which is a shuffling walk in a stooping gait and absent or diminished arm swing. Some individuals experience secondary symptoms, which include anxiety, memory loss, depression, constipation, increased sweating, just to mention a few symptoms (Stone, 2011).

Diagnosis of Parkinson Disease

Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease depends on the physical examination and symptoms of the disorder (Factor & Weiner, 2008. For instance, a symptom such as trembling is extremely significant for those people suffering from Parkinson's disease, which distinguishes the disorder from other diseases that lead to tremors as a symptom. Individuals with Parkinson's disease tend to in a shuffling and stooping gait without or with little self-generated arm swinging, which is odd. Sometimes, doctors order tests, such as blood tests, to determine whether the symptoms are of medical origin or they are hereditary (Factor & Weiner, 2008.

Treatment of Parkinson Disease

Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but scientists have discovered and made various therapies that can delay the appearance of motor symptoms and alleviate the symptoms (Factor & Weiner, 2008. Such therapies are useful in increasing the level of dopamine either by mimicking dopamine, replacing dopamine, or inhibiting the breakdown of dopamine to prolong its effects. Research has shown that the use of therapy before the onset of motor symptoms can delay the onset and extend the patient’s quality life (Stone, 2011). Levodopa is among the most effective therapies, which undergoes conversion into dopamine. However, due to long-term treatment, levodopa can cause harmful side effects, such as involuntary movements and painful cramps (Stone, 2011). Another drug that is useful in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease is a monoamine oxidase type B (Stone, 2011). This drug mimics dopamine and reduces its disintegration, and it relieves motor symptoms effectively. This medication, however, has side effects, including nausea, constipation, hallucinations, dizziness, and selling of body tissues.

Impacts of Parkinson Disease on Healthcare Organizations

Parkinson disease has affected health care organizations in a negative manner because of the disease’s chronic nature. Patients spend a long time in hospitals and other healthcare institutions for continued support. Therefore, like other chronic debilitating diseases, Parkinson’s disease requires the utilization of a lot of resources, including time, finances, and health personnel (Stone, 2011).   

Effects of Parkinson Disease on the Role of Nurses and Physicians

Nurses and physicians take most of their time taking care of Parkinson disease patients because this disease is chronic and debilitating. This disease has challenged health personnel in finding the most appropriate medication, which they have not found yet (Waters, 2008). 

Therefore, Parkinson’s disease is the disease that affects the central nervous system due to the degeneration of cells that are responsible in the production of dopamine. Body muscles fail to coordinate normally due to deficient dopamine. Parkinson disease is a chronic debilitating disease that commonly affects aged people because their central nervous system becomes weaker as compared to the central nervous system of young people. Various drugs such as levodopa and monoamine oxidase type B are effective in the treatment of this disorder, but they have unpleasant side effects because of long-term use (Stone, 2011). Parkinson disease affects both the health care organizations and health personnel, such as nurses and physicians because of the time and finances. 

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