Introduction to Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease affects nearly 10 million people worldwide and 4 million of them suffer from snoring and sleep apnea. Parkinson’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that attacks neurons located in the brain. These neurons release a chemical called dopamine which causes the brain to lose control of body movement and function. The more dopamine is released, the more spastic the body movements become and cannot be controlled.
Noticeable Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s
Noticeable signs of Parkinson’s include: Serious Hand, Arm, and Leg Tremors; Stiff Body Movement; Slowness or Impaired Movement; Loss of Balance; and Restless Leg Syndrome.
One of the most recognizable symptoms of Parkinson’s is tremors. They occur in the hands, arms, legs and even in the face and can become very burdensome and frustrating for the individual as the disease becomes more chronic. Some patients are not aware of the tremors in the early stages of Parkinson’s and the same is true for the later stages when they lose all feeling and control during the tremor movements.
Stiffness in the muscles is referred to as rigidity. The muscles tighten and are not as flexible as they once were. The stiffness may look like partial paralysis in certain limbs and can include the legs, arms, feet and neck. Slowness or impaired movement in the body and actions is commonly referred to as Bradykinesia. Spontaneous and quick movements or impulses are typically eliminated or occur very rarely.
Losing balance is also a common symptom of Parkinson’s. Typical symptoms usually occur at the same time making it difficult to walk and keep balance when you have leg and arm tremors happening alongside the tightening of your muscles. Many patients have to use a wheelchair as their symptoms worsen over time.
Restless leg syndrome is a common side effect which usually happens at night. Nighttime can be extremely difficult for those with Parkinson’s because the medicine keeps them and their partner awake. Restless legs can interrupt their normal sleep patterns and sometimes even prevent them from falling asleep.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, and apnea is present in at least forty percent of Parkinson’s patients. Many people with Parkinson’s are loud snorers due to an obstruction in the airway. The obstruction causes air to pass around it and down the throat close to the fatty mouth tissues, which vibrate when air is forced past them and creates a snoring sound. This sound can interrupt our normal sleep patterns and even affect melatonin levels which determine when it is time to sleep, leading to disturbances in sleep patterns, sleep apnea, and even insomnia.
Unfortunately, there is still no cure for this disease. However, it can be treated with a range of medicines and surgeries in order to manage the side effects as best as possible.
The importance of getting adequate sleep cannot be overstated, especially for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Oral treatments and sleep aids can ease the mind, but there must also be the use of proper sleep medicine and medical devices in order to ensure that the symptoms are being managed.
It cannot be stressed enough that proper management of sleep apnea is essential for those who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Sleep apnea can easily cause more serious health issues if not managed properly. A wide range of treatments and therapies are available to help those who are dealing with this disease and sleep disturbances.