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There are no specific tests that can be performed for Parkinson's disease. Instead, the physician may need to observe the patient for some time until it is apparent that the tremor is consistently present and is joined by one or more of the other classic symptoms.
How is the disease treated?
There are several drugs that have been found to provide relief from the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Unfortunately, many of them have mild to severe side effects. In addition, the results vary by patient and often treat some symptoms while leaving others.
Levodopa – The most commonly prescribed drug. Levodopa is a chemical that crosses the blood-brain barrier and is converted to dopamine in the brain. It is technically known as a 'precursor to dopamine.'
Segeline – This is a MAO-B inhibitor. MAO-B is an enzyme that degrades dopamine, therefore inhibiting this enzyme causes dopamine to have a longer lasting effect on the brain.
Anticholigernic Medications – They block nerve impulses that control muscle movement. They also block acetylecholine, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate muscle movement. Anticholigernics work best in patients who are over 70, where their main symptoms are tremors and drooling.
Surgery - Surgery can be used to treat Parkinson's disease. In general, it is currently regarded as a backup treatment to drugs. There are several procedures for varying intended results. Further research is still being done on the value of these techniques as well as new procedures being explored.
Exercise and Therapy – Simple exercise or more advanced therapies like speech or physical therapy are often used to treat Parkinson's. The disease progression is not interrupted but exercise and specialized therapies can help improve mobility, body strength and range of motion, and target certain muscles to improve speech or eating.
Support Groups - Because of the drastic changes in their life, support groups are often encouraged to help patients adjust to their new lifestyle. For information about support groups in your area, go to the National Parkinson’s Association website at http://www.parkinson.org/Search-Pages/Chapter-Locator.