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Hi, my mother has just been diagnosed with parkinson's disease. The doctor has told us that there is no cure for this illness, but that the medications are used to slow down the progression of the disease. But, he did not say what the stages of Parkinson's disease are. Could you explain the progression of parkinson's disease to me? Is there something we can do to slow down this process?

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Hi, Parkinson's disease is a degenerative central nervous system disease. There is no cure, because the doctors don't know what causes it. During the illness the brain cells that produce dopamine are destroyed. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which brain cells use to communicate. When there is not enough of this substance, the messages are not transmitted from the brain to the muscles, so the muscles are not able to relax. As more and more neurons get destroyed, the illness progresses. This progression is divided into five stages. The fist stage is the mild or early disease. During this stage only one side of the body is affected. This means that a person's one hand or fingers may shake in certain position, she or he feels tired and expresses slowness in movement. The second stage starts when both sides of the body are affected, but the problems with posture are not present. The third stage is called moderate disease. By this time a person starts to experience imbalance while walking, but doesn't need help to take care of her. The fourth stage is the advanced Parkinson's disease. The patient in this stage experiences disabling imbalance while walking and is unable to perform this activity on her own. Drugs do not work as well and because of long term use, the side effects limit the treatment possibilities. Also, the muscles involved in speech and swallowing mechanism get affected and person starts to have difficulties with this function also. Finally, in the fifth stage a person is restricted to bed, because the movement is totally limited. There are several treatment methods used to slow down this process. Drugs and surgery are some of them.
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