Is It Parkinson’s or Essential Tremor?
As we go on through life, a lot of incurable diseases and disorders emerge while we move on and try to adapt to change. Sometimes it feels as if there’s no escape from these dilemmas and as if technology is the reason for these crises. Well, that’s not true because the human species doesn't stand aside and do nothing. On the contrary, we take a stand and use technology to help us find cures and results for every obstacle we face.
It won’t be easy but it’s not impossible!
As time passes, we find ourselves facing a huge obstacle in illnesses. We have come across multiple disorders like Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor that have put us in quite a bubble. Conditions like these haven’t proven yet for a cure nor have they been analyzed for causes as well. But how can we tell disorders like these apart?
First, let’s take a quick look at both of these conditions and what they are.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
According to The Michael J. Fox Foundation:
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes the person to experience shaking in most parts of the body, stiffness when trying to get up or move, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. It is also called “movement disorder” knowing that it causes serious difficulties while moving. Parkinson’s disease is considered a lifelong and progressive condition meaning the symptoms and side effects will get worse slowly over time.
Age is also considered a huge factor in Parkinson’s. It’s known that people from the ages of 50 and above are more likely to have this disorder. It’s also a known fact that people think that this condition is an old person’s disorder, yet some people experience Parkinson’s at the age of 40 and younger.
Although both genders are affected, studies have shown that men have a 50% higher chance than women of contracting the disease.
Parkinson’s Disease:Now, the symptoms for this disorder vary from one person to another, meaning that every person can experience different symptoms than others with Parkinson’s. The most commonly known symptoms of this condition are:
- Resting tremor: Which is experiencing a shake in your hands or other body parts without doing anything. You might be just sitting down on your chair and your hands might start to shake uncontrollably.
- Slow Movement: This means that you will notice a decrease in voluntary movement which results in slower walking, less arm swinging while walking, or decreased blinking or facial expression.
- Muscle Stiffness: This symptom can be determined by a doctor’s examination of the muscles. It will have the person experience difficulty in movement and standing up.
Note that this syndrome, which is a collection of motor symptoms, is not experienced by everyone who has Parkinson’s disease, yet slowness is always present. In other words, a person with Parkinson’s won’t necessarily have all three symptoms and won’t have one specific symptom either. It varies from one person to another.
Other symptoms might include:
- Difficulty in balance and coordination
- Non-Motor Symptoms like:
Constipation – low blood pressure – urine problems – sleep problems – depression.
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?
Scientists discovered that the reason behind all of these symptoms associated with Parkinson's, are dying or impaired nerve cells located in an area of the brain that is responsible for movement of the body. These cells are responsible for the production of dopamine in the brain, and with these cells dying, less dopamine is being produced which leads to Parkinson’s. Although research has shown that the loss of dopaminergic neurons leads to movement disorder, it is still not clear as to what causes these cells to die. It is believed a combination of genetic mutations and environmental factors may be the cause of the condition.
Now that we have briefed you about Parkinson’s syndrome, let’s compare it to essential tremor.
What is Essential Tremor?According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders:
Essential tremor is a nervous system disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It’s similar to Parkinson’s syndrome but differs in many ways. Essential tremor causes your hands, and sometimes most parts of your body, to shake uncontrollably. Most often, this effect only occurs to your hands when you do simple tasks like holding up a glass to drink, or trying to write on a piece of paper. The tremble effect starts to take action as you lift the glass which makes it difficult not to spill the water as you do so. The tremble might also start while writing which makes it almost impossible to keep a steady line.
Essential tremor symptoms are similar to those of Parkinson’s syndrome when it comes to the age factor. Essential tremor is also more likely to develop among people between the ages of 40 and older, but it’s possible to be diagnosed at younger ages as well.
In addition, it gets worse as time passes just like the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Now for the symptoms where these two conditions differ.
Essential Tremor Symptoms:
- Tremble and shiver in your voice:
A person will experience a slight tremor in their voice as they speak, as well as twitching in some areas of speech that is also uncontrollable.
- Constant head nodding:
A person will experience a spontaneous nodding action occurring with their head that is uncontrollable. Your head might nod in a yes or no form constantly and spontaneously.
- Hand shaking and tremors:
It’s a known fact that essential tremor is most likely to be experienced in your hands, as you will face difficulties in holding a glass of water without spilling it or trying to write without shaking.
Essential Tremor Causes:
Some research suggests essential tremor is caused by genetic mutations, also known as familial tremor, but it still isn’t clear nor is it certain that what causes essential tremor is of genetic origin.
Others hypothesize that what causes essential tremor lies in the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) molecules that control the activity of your brain and help you maintain control over your body’s actions.
In summary, how can you know if a person has Parkinson’s or Essential Tremor?As we have explained in this article, both of these conditions have no defined origin, but it’s a known fact that both of their symptoms might be alike but differ in many ways:
- Essential tremor doesn’t cause health issues to the body like lack of sleep, constipation, and other symptoms found in Parkinson’s.
- Essential tremor usually occurs when you use your hand while doing simple tasks. As for Parkinson’s it’s most prominent when your hands are at your sides or resting on your lap.
- Both of these conditions' symptoms get worse as time passes, but essential tremor doesn’t shorten a person’s lifespan as opposed to Parkinson’s disease.
- Essential tremor affects your vocal cords and head. While Parkinson’s can affect most parts of your body.
Diagnosis of Parkinson’s and Essential Tremor:
Both of these conditions can’t be thoroughly diagnosed for there hasn’t been any machinery or technological method that can help determine if a person has either Parkinson’s or essential tremor. At this point, the best doctors can do is to diagnose patients by researching their medical history and conducting a physical examination.
Remedies and Solutions That Can Treat Parkinson’s and Essential Tremor:
There’s no known cure for both of these conditions but there are ways to help ease the pain and lessen the effect of symptoms.
- It can be treated with proper medication that can help, whether the person has Parkinson’s or essential tremor disorder.
- Seeing a specialized therapist might help with essential tremor but not likely with Parkinson’s.
- Finally, there is a highly effective assistive device designed to stabilize tremors for individuals living with essential tremor or Parkinson's. The Steadi-One designed by us at Steadiwear, has a smart fluid that stiffens & works together with a counter-weight that moves in the opposite direction of your tremor. This remarkable glove will allow people suffering from uncontrollable hand shaking to be able to move their hands freely and keep them stabilized. It’s truly a magnificent solution for tremor symptoms that occur to a person’s hands.
Don’t doubt technology and start pointing fingers at people who you think are responsible.
As Michael J. Fox said, “The latest research is the latest hope”. Have hope in mankind and what can be done with technology.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)