Living with Parkinson’s disease is challenging, but a management plan to help patients improve symptoms and maintain an active and positive lifestyle.

Parkinson’s symptoms often vary among individuals, in both disease intensity and progression. They usually, however, include motor symptoms (such as tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), postural instability, and walking problems), as well as non-motor symptoms like difficulties with sleep, emotional issues such as depression or anxiety, decline in mental processes, fatigue, an altered sense of smell, and gastrointestinal problems.

Because the disease is chronic and progressive, and because needs change with disease progression, Parkinson’s patients require a multi-disciplinary team of specialists to manage their symptoms. This team will ideally include a movement disorder specialist, such as a neurologist; a nurse; physical therapist; speech therapist; an occupational therapist; nutritionist; pharmacist; and social worker. Some patients may require other specialists, such as a psychiatrist and a neurosurgeon.

This multi-disciplinary team helps  patients to manage their symptoms by providing support and advice in areas such as exercise, diet, medication, and, possibly, with participating in clinical trials.

Exercise

Regular exercise — like swimming, walking, dancing, or Tai Chi — can be of considerable help not only with mobility issues and those concerning balance and coordination, but also benefit a patient’s mental health.

Diet

Healthy eating is important in Parkinson’s disease. Eating fruits and vegetables regularly increases fiber and antioxidant intake, and may help ease constipation while promoting better overall health. It’s also important to ensure adequate hydration, by drinking water and other non-alcoholic and caffeine-free drinks regularly can also help to reduce muscle cramping.

Medication

Parkinson’s disease patients require several classes of medications, especially for the treatment of motor symptoms. These medications may lead to other symptoms such as hallucinations and/or delusions. Therefore it is important to adjust the type and dose of each medication according to individual patients.

Participating in clinical trials

Clinical trials are important for a better understanding how a disease develops and progresses, and in potentially developing new therapies. Interested patients can talk with specialists on their management team to help them identify a range of ongoing clinical trials into potential new treatments for Parkinson’s disease and, if they choose, to take part in those studies.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.