Parkinson’s Disease

Can dogs detect disease? Studies say…

Can “Spot” spot cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and more? We’ve rounded up some of what the initial research shows so far — and it’s not just fluff. “The full potential of dogs to detect human disease is just beginning to be understood,” says Claire Guest, chief executive of a U.K.-based organization called Medical Detection Dogs, which trains “biodetection dogs” (involved in some of the research cited below). “If all diseases have an odor, which we have reason to believe they do, we can use dogs to identify them.” Sniffing out the latest studies Several media outlets reported this fall that scientists are currently training dogs to sniff out the scent of malaria, which is on the rise and especially deadly in children. In October, researchers announced at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference that two dogs correctly detected malaria in children (who appeared healthy, without symptoms) 70 percent of the time. Following this small “proof of concept” study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, researchers will continue to work on training biodetection dogs and also try to develop a device that could one day mimic what the dog’s nose does — pick up scents or compounds associated with …

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Prevention of Parkinson's Disease - Parkinson's Freezing

Parkinson’s Freezing Triggers and Fall Prevention

Gait freezing and falls are common among people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Take a closer look at patients’ experiences, common triggers of freezing and tips that may help prevent falls. What is known about freezing and falls? Researchers and movement experts have been studying gait freezing in people with PD for several decades. The exact cause of freezing is unknown, but experts believe it’s caused by PD’s effects on parts of the brain that control motor movement, such as the basal ganglia or part of the right side of the brain. Common triggers of gait freezing may include: Crowded environments or tight spaces Turning corners, going around furniture or objects, or changing direction Entering doorways, crossing over thresholds (especially from outdoors to inside), or changes in flooring (for example, from tile or wood to carpet) Distraction or multi-tasking, such as walking and talking or carrying objects Anxiety (initial research shows that this common symptom in people with PD may play a role in freezing, but further studies are needed) Some tips and tricks may help “thaw” episodes of freezing (but every person is different, so talk with a movement specialist or physical therapist about what might work for you): Visual cues — Giving yourself a visual hint …

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Squash soup and healthy fall foods

Fall feast: 3 ‘Parkinson’s-friendly’ recipes + cooking tips

Are you living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and looking for some dishes for Thanksgiving or another fall feast? Or just to boost your appetite? Our friends at Community Servings — a Boston-area nutrition and meal delivery organization for people with health conditions — handpicked three tasty recipes with a healthy balance of nutrients for people with PD. Plus, they’re sharing some quick pointers to help you keep on cooking with your condition. 3 awesome autumn recipes “These are all high in fiber, have healthy fat, a moderate amount of protein, and are pretty easy to prepare,” says Alison Schlisser, a registered dietician and manager of Nutrition Services at Community Servings. Butternut Squash & Black Bean Salad – This earthy salad features a flavorful combo of beans, squash, feta cheese, lemon juice and cilantro (with a dash of pumpkin pie spice, to boot). Serve it warm or at room temperature as a side dish or main course. Mediterranean Sweet Potatoes – The stars of this vegan dish are roasted sweet potatoes and crispy chickpeas (spiced with cumin, cinnamon and paprika), plus a creamy tahini (sesame) sauce. This could add a nice kick to your Thanksgiving menu! Delicata Squash & Lentil Soup – Delicatas are the long, …

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A possible Parkinson’s disease/melanoma link? Time for a skin check

Now that summer has passed, have you had your skin examined? Studies have shown that people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) may have an increased risk for melanoma, so skin screenings are extra-important. Take a look at recent research and get some tips on monitoring your moles and skin. Studies show… A 2017 Mayo Clinic study found that people with either PD or melanoma are four times as likely to receive a diagnosis of the other disease. The researchers say the PD drug levodopa (which some people believe may play a role in melanoma risk) is not likely a factor in the PD/melanoma connection, according to McKnight’s. They found that the majority of melanomas were diagnosed before the diagnosis or treatment of Parkinson’s disease, so taking levodopa doesn’t appear to be a risk factor. Future research should focus on genes, immune responses and environmental exposures that could cause the relationship, the researchers say. Know your “ABCDEs” Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s “ABCDEs of Melanoma” (click here to see images of examples), and make an appointment right away if you spot any of these warning signs: A = asymmetry. Malignant moles tend to have an odd shape. B = border. The edges of an early melanoma may be …

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Driving with Parkinson’s disease: Safety considerations + turning over the keys

Are you still driving with Parkinson’s disease? Check out some safety considerations and pointers for determining if it’s time to turn over the keys. Plus, explore how others with PD have handled this tricky topic and see some alternate ways of getting around. Considerations for driving with PD + 7 questions to ask yourself “You will likely be able to drive safely and legally for several years, depending on your age and general physical condition,” according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. “However, Parkinson’s disease eventually affects reaction time, ability to handle multiple tasks, vision and judgment.” Everyone with PD is living with their own mix of motor and non-motor symptoms, rate of disease progression, and reaction to medication (such as levodopa “ons and offs”) — all of which can affect driving abilities. There are currently no set guidelines for neurologists to determine someone’s fitness to drive, so doctors consider patients’ skills and symptoms on a case-by-case basis, according to ParkinsonsDisease.net. They recommend considering these questions to help determine if you’re still fit to drive: How is my vision? Can I see well at night? Can I distinguish colors, such as in traffic lights? Would I be putting my passenger (friend or loved …

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“Breaking up” with a doctor after 14 years — Bernadette’s journey to better care

PatientsLikeMe member Bernadette (yellsea), who’s on the 2018 Team of Advisors, has been living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) since 2002. She recently filled us in about switching specialists after more than a decade with the same neurologist, and advocating for herself after enough “red flags” popped up in her interactions with that physician. Out with the old Bernadette lives in remote area in the Great Lakes Region of New York. The first PD symptom she noticed was her handwriting getting small (a common early symptom of PD known as micrographia) — and her first doctor dismissed it as “writer’s cramp.” When she began having tremors in her hand, she started seeing a neurologist with a strong reputation in Syracuse, about a 40 minute drive from her home. “He’s very well-respected in the area,” she says. “In fact, a lot of the [other] doctors won’t step on his toes.” Bernadette was experiencing serious side effects with some of her PD medications — including compulsive gambling out of the blue (a reported side effect of Mirapex) — but her neurologist asked her very few questions about how she was feeling, and never raised the topic of side effects. “My husband didn’t like him,” Bernadette says of her …

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Parkisnon's Speech

Let’s talk: Parkinson’s disease, speech changes + communication issues

Parkinson’s disease can cause your voice to become raspy, quiet or unsteady, and motor symptoms can make writing and typing more difficult. Have you experienced communication issues like these? See what others have tried — from Lee Silverman Voice Treatment and voice-activated “smart” devices to (drumroll please…) singing classes. How PD can impact communication Parkinson’s affects the part of the brain and nerves that control speech and oral/facial movement. ParkinsonsDisease.net says PD may cause: Softer, breathy, or hoarse voice Slurred speech Mumbling or rapid speech Monotone voice, lacking the normal ups and downs Slower speech because of difficulty finding the right words Trouble participating in fast-paced conversations. They also break down the medical terms related to these speech symptoms: Dysarthria — A motor speech disorder or impairment in speaking due to PD affecting the muscles required for speech Hypophonia — Soft speech or an abnormally weak voice caused by the weakening muscles Tachyphemia — Also known as “cluttering,” this is characterized by excessively fast talking and rapid stammering that can be difficult to understand In addition, people with PD may experience tremor, rigidity and dystonia or cramping, which can make writing and typing difficult. Research has shown that about half of people with PD have micrographia (small, cramped handwriting). Treatments …

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Drenching Night Sweats - Parkinson's Sweat

Parkinson’s Disease and Drenching Night Sweats? Solutions!

PatientsLikeMe members with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have talked a lot about excessive sweating (aka hyperhidrosis) and heat intolerance with Parkinson’s disease. It can be a “stinker,” as one blogger who has PD recently shared in Parkinson’s News Today. Can you relate? Read on for more information and some possible adjustments or life hacks that others have tried. One study found that over 60% of patients with PD experience sweating disturbances like hyperhidrosis (over-secretion of sweat) or hypohydrosis (under-secretion of sweat, which is less common). The Parkinson’s Foundation and Parkinson’s Victoria cover these issues in their guides to skin, scalp and sweat changes related to PD. In addition to hyperhidrosis, many people with PD experience an extra-oily scalp (or other parts of the body), drenching night sweats and general difficulty with temperature control. Some of these problems may stem from PD itself, which affects some of the body’s automatic functions, such as blood pressure and temperature regulation. Research has shown that hyperhidrosis also seems to occur along with “off” times in levodopa treatment and with dyskinesia (jerky movements without tremors). Possible solutions and hacks Maria De Leon, M.D., a neurologist with young onset PD, writes on her blog that she understands firsthand the impact that sweating (and related body odor) issues can have on people’s lives. A few …

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Health news: What’s making headlines in June

In case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in June…   Parkinson’s disease: Apple Watch will now be able to monitor PD: Tech developers announced this month that the Apple Watch will now be able to track two common PD symptoms — tremors and dyskinesia — and map them out in graphs to help doctors (and patients) with PD monitoring. Fill me in. Study points to an “overlooked driver” of PD — Bacteriophages: What are bacteriophages or “phages”? Viruses that infect bacteria. New research shows that people with PD may have an overabundance of phages that kill “good” bacteria in the microbiome or gut, which could mean a new target for treating PD. More on the study. Lupus: How common are cognitive issues with lupus? Very. A doctor specializing in lupus research says nearly 40% of people with SLE have some level of cognitive impairment, such as trouble with attention, recall and concentration — so doctors should monitor it early and often. Read his Q&A. Lung cancer: Drug may replace chemo as initial treatment for many with NSCLC: New clinical trial results of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda show that it can be a more effective first treatment than chemotherapy for …

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Parkinson’s disease + anxiety/depression: Stigma-busting for Mental Health Month

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Have you experienced any of these along with Parkinson’s disease (PD)? As National Mental Health Month comes to a close, we’re highlighting how common these non-motor symptoms and mental health issues are among people with PD. Plus, see some new research on the prevalence of feeling demoralized (vs. depressed) with PD, and explore how members of the PatientsLikeMe community try to manage their mental health. Research shows that the vast majority of people with PD have non-motor symptoms (NMS) — with psychiatric symptoms (like anxiety, depression and psychosis) accounting for 60 percent of NMS in one large-scale study. “That’s why taking action is important,” says Andrew Ridder, M.D., a movement disorders specialist at Michigan Health. “If you or a loved one has had a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, we recommend an immediate evaluation for depression, mood and cognitive problems. Frequent monitoring should also be done throughout the course of the disease.” Dr. Ridder cites some key stats: About 5 to 40 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety Between 17 to 50 percent of patients with Parkinson’s have depression “Anxious mood” and “depressed mood” are commonly reported symptoms of PD on PatientsLikeMe. Hundreds of members have reported a diagnosis of PD …

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