Young-onset Parkinson’s disease is on the rise, we see more and more people in their thirties and forties diagnosed with PD. Estimating 10 percent, about 100,000 of people with Parkinson’s in the US may fall into this category.
While the extent of potential symptoms is the same regardless of when PD is diagnosed, younger people may experience symptoms and overall course of disease fairly differently. They often have a longer journey to diagnosis as well, seeing multiple providers and undergoing several tests before correct conclusion is reached. A person with YOPD will more likely experience dystonia — an involuntary muscle contraction that leads to an often painful abnormal posture, such as an inward turning of the foot. In some people, dystonia is the first symptom of Parkinson’s and comes on after exercise. On the other hand, people with YOPD are less likely to have significant problems with balance, or considerable impairment of memory or thinking. As a complication of long-term use of levodopa younger person is more likely to develop dyskinesia — involuntary, uncontrolled movements, often writhing or wriggling – combined with a prolonged course of Parkinson’s disease. Gradual progression of disease over time is, in general, slower.
Atypical Parkinsonisms are conditions in which an individual experiences some of the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) — tremor, slowness, rigidity (stiffness), and/or walking and balance problems — but does not have PD. Atypical parkinsonism can be due to certain medications (some anti-nausea and antipsychotic drugs), other brain disorders (repeated head injury or multiple small strokes) or neurodegenerative diseases.
Regardless of age both genetic changes and environmental factors likely contribute to different degrees to cause disease. In younger people, especially those who have family members with Parkinson’s, genetics may play a larger role. Certain genetic mutations are associated with an increased risk of young-onset PD. If you have symptoms that could be linked to YOPD and have a family history of Parkinson’s, you might consider genetic testing to see if you carry one of these mutations.
Genetic testing can be done through www.23andMe.com. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration authorized 23andMe, a genetic testing company, to market tests for 10 diseases or conditions directly to individuals. The way the test works is that you send in a saliva sample, which is then tested for more than 500,000 DNA variants. Having – or not having – certain variants is associated with an increased risk of developing one of the 10 diseases or conditions that 23andME tests for, which among others include: Early-onset primary dystonia, a disorder characterized by progressive problems with movement and Parkinson’s disease. While these tests give you information about your genetic risk to a PD, they can’t provide information about your overall risk of developing a disease. That is because genetic risk factors alone do not mean you will definitely develop Parkinson’s disease – other factors, like your particular lifestyle or environment, also play a role.
Just because you have a genetic predisposition to a particular disease doesn’t mean it will develop. While you can not control your genetics, you can control many of the lifestyle choices and factors that can increase your chances of never developing it.
As with a Parkinson’s diagnosed later in life, there is no valid biomarker…. objective measurement such as for example lab test or imaging scan that can diagnosed PD. All diagnoses are made based on a person’s medical history and physical examination. That is why diagnosis may be missed or delayed as symptoms like arm or shoulder stiffness are attributed to conditions such as arthritis, sports injuries or other medical conditions before Parkinson’s is eventually diagnosed.
People diagnosed at a younger age may hide their symptoms in order to avoid stigma when their symptoms are misunderstood. Although everyone with Parkinson’s probably wonders what the years ahead hold, concerns of younger people often center on the potential implications of disease on personal, family and professional desires and responsibilities. Young-onset Parkinson’s can impact relationships with significant others and spouses. Addressing symptoms and issues (including sexual health) as they arise, can be helpful. Cooperation and flexibility become critical when managing life with Parkinson’s together.
Should You Order a Genetic Test?
If you’ve been considering a 23andMe genetic test, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, once you learn information, you can’t “unknow” it.
If you do get results that show you are genetically predisposed to a disease, it’s a good idea to speak with your health provider about what this means for your health and what you personally should do to minimize your risk of developing the disease.
It’s also important to note that, just because you’re predisposed to a disease doesn’t mean you will ever get it. Likewise even though you might not have tested for any genetic markers for a Parkinson’s disease, that doesn’t mean you’re immune from it. That’s why it is important to pay attention to your health regardless of your genetic test results.
Lifestyle Factors That Can Improve Your Odds even if you have an increased genetic risk.
Your overall diet, of course, is one of the best things that can improve your odds of not developing PD. Gluten and largely grain free diets rich in fresh organic veggies, fruits, lean meats and limited organic dairy are important for keeping your body healthy. Avoiding processed foods, artificial sweeteners and added sugars are also key to health.
The exercise can be beneficial as well. Exercise helps strengthen your immune system, keep your brain sharp and increase strength and flexibility, all of which are essential in helping your body fight back against disease development or progression.
The practice of yoga or tai chi are helpful. For diseases that impact mobility, like PD or dystonia, building a tai chi or gentle yoga practice can be effective at helping to maintain strength, mobility and balance. It’s a great way to stay both physically and mentally active as well.
2. Both Stimulatory and Inhibitory Effects of Dietary 5-hydroxytryptophan and Tyrosine are found on Urinary Excretion of Serotonin and Dopamine.
18. Validity of urinary monoamine assay sales under the “spot baseline urinary neurotransmitter testing marketing model”
20. Urinary neurotransmitter testing: considerations of spot baseline norepinephrine and epinephrine
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