Developing Parkinson’s disease is not something that often happens on its own. Of course, there are genetic factors that could play a part in this neurological disorder. However, it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that could lead to this disease.
In some cases, we have seen recent lawsuits that allege that exposure to certain chemicals has caused Parkinson’s disease. Here, we will focus on how people could develop Parkinson’s. That could give you an idea of whether you may have a possible lawsuit.
Reasons Why Parkinson’s Disease Occurs
The scientific reason given for Parkinson’s disease is that the patient has lost nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. A very important chemical called dopamine is produced by the substantia nigra. The loss of the ability to produce dopamine contributes to the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
What Dopamine Does in Your Brain
Dopamine is a chemical that acts as a messenger between various parts of your brain. This is how your brain controls movement. It coordinates bodily movements. When you have less dopamine, you end up with involuntary movements.
How You Lose Dopamine Production
Damaged nerve cells can be what results in a decreased ability of the brain to create dopamine. Generally, some kind of degradation of the brain cells will reduce dopamine production.
There is some genetic link to parkinson’s disease. For example, specific genetic mutations can impact the dopamine production. Far more common is that exposure to something in the environment can impact the brain.
Advancing Age and Parkinson’s Disease
Age is perhaps the biggest risk factor for the onset of Parkinson’s disease. The average age at which people will develop this movement disorder is 60. This is not usually something that affects younger people. The brain ages as people get older.
Even without external factors, cells in the substantia nigra can die on their own as an individual ages, causing symptoms to develop as the person gets older.
Age and Genetic Factors Are Not Everything
The rate of Parkinson’s disease globally has exceeded far faster than the population has aged according to the American Parkinson Disease Association.
Cases of the disease are up by several multiples over the past decades. From 1990 to 2015, the cases of the disease globally more than doubled, suggesting that there is far more at work. From 2015 to 2040, cases are expected to double once again. This is far higher than the rate of aging in the population.
How Environmental Factors Could Cause Parkinson’s Disease
Scientists differ about the extent that brain cells are impacted by environmental factors. However, the statistics associated with the disease show that the environment can play a very large role in whether parkinson’s disease develops.
Most often, it is exposure to toxic chemicals that could play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. Usually, these combine with genetic factors to produce the conditions that cause Parkinson’s.
Some Are Calling Parkinson’s a Man-Made Disease
Researchers are rapidly coming to the viewpoint that a large number of Parkinson’s cases are tied to toxins. These researchers are even reaching conclusions that environment outranks genetics as a cause of Parkinson’s.
One 2020 book discussed an exhaustive study of 17,000 twin brothers to pinpoint the effects that environment could play. The researchers found that people exposed to certain environmental factors were more than twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s.
Toxic Substances That Have Been Linked to Parkinson’s Disease
There are numerous environmental toxins that researchers have tied to the neurological disorders known as parkinson disease. Here are some that have been linked:
- Agent Orange – This was a chemical defoliant used in Vietnam that is already tied to cancer. While there is no definitive link with Parkinson’s, the VA at least believes that there is a possibility that the two are tied.
- Solvents – Some studies have shown a link between Trichloroethylene, a substance contained in many solvents, and Parkinson’s.
- PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls were extensively used in the 1970s. They have been often found in the brains of people who have suffered from Parkinson’s.
- Pesticides and herbicides -substances such as insecticides, pesticides and herbicides contain chemicals that researchers have strongly linked with higher incidences of Parkinson’s. One of the leading contributors is considered to be Paraquat. For information on Paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuits, look here.
Common Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Here are some of the early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that you need to be on the lookout for in deciding to see a healthcare professional who can provide medical advice.
- Rigid muscles
- Restless legs
- Slight tremor
- Impaired posture and balance
- Spastic and uncontrolled movements
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle rigidity
- Speech changes
- Lack of ability to write
- Slowed movement
- Low blood pressure
If you notice these, or other symptoms involving the nervous system, it is time to see a doctor. If you experience a sudden drop in the body’s ability to execute any of these tasks or control movements, it is a sign that something is wrong. Doctors may be able to give medications or other treatments that could improve symptoms.
Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s patients could also be affected in ways that have nothing to do with their movement. There are also cognitive effects of the disease. People with parkinson’s frequently exhibit:
- mood disorders
- sleep disorders
Do Genetic Factors Come Into Play?
In most cases, people with Parkinson’s disease do not get it based on family history alone. Most cases are not caused by genetics. However, there may be some risk factors from genetics. Genetic factors are more likely to be present for early onset Parkinson’s disease, since the person does not have as much of a chance to become affected by their environment.
Some scientists attribute 10-20% of Parkinson’s cases to genetic factors. This would mean that up to 90% of cases are caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals.
Head Trauma and Parkinson’s
In addition to environmental and genetic factors, other things that happen to your brain could increase risks of developing Parkinson’s. For example, a traumatic brain injury also could lead to Parkinson’s disease in the future.
One study showed that 75% of military veterans who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease had previously suffered a traumatic brain injury. These researchers concluded that traumatic brain injuries could increase risk of Parkinson’s disease by 56-83%.
How Lewy Bodies Effect Parkinson’s
Many people mistake Parkinson’s disease and lewy body dementia. Clumps of protein that form in the brain are called Lewy bodies. Parkinson’s dementia is a form of lewy body dementia that could develop as the disease progresses.
Nonetheless, effects on Lewy Bodies can be a precursor to Parkinson’s disease. The presence of Lewy bodies in the brain could be a sign that the patients may have Parkinson’s. However, the two diseases are different, while often mistaken for each other.
How Diet and Lifestyle Affect Parkinson’s
While environment is the biggest thing that could cause people to develop parkinson’s disease, lifestyle can also play a factor into it as well. Lack of exercise and a poor diet could lead to things like high blood pressure. This could increase the risk factors for the disease.
There is research that shows things like hypertension and diabetes could put people at an increased risk of Parkinson’s. While not a surefire way to prevent Parkinson’s disease, people can lower their risk by changing their diet and getting regular exercise.
Lifestyle and a healthy diet could help patients manage the symptoms and progression of the disease once they are diagnosed.
No Exact Cause of Parkinson’s Disease Is Still Known
For all of the talk of genetics and environment, scientists have still not honed in on the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease. They have run studies to come up with what they think causes the disease.
If scientists can pinpoint the cause of the disease, it would help them come up with more effective and targeted treatments for the disease.
How to Treat Parkinson’s Disease
There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, the disease can be managed and progression can be slowed through a course of treatment that includes medications.
The one thing that medication cannot do is administer dopamine directly to the brain. However, medications can be administered that could stimulate the brain to produce dopamine.
Other medications could include:
- dopamine agonists
- mao b inhibitors
- Inhaled carbidopa-levodopa
- Carbidopa-levodopa infusion
The key is to get treatment early as symptoms develop, so they can be managed and the progression of the disease can be slowed.
Deep Brain Stimulation
Another way to treat Parkinson’s is a surgical procedure that implants an electrode within the brain. There are two surgeries. The first implants an electrode to measure brain activity in a certain area. The second procedure places an impulse generator battery to stimulate those areas.
It can be turned on and off, and it could be activated when the patient is experiencing disabling tremors. This can now be used when someone is in the initial stages and is experiencing early symptoms of the disease.
Lawsuits for Toxins That Could Cause Parkinson’s Disease
The body of research that shows that environment could cause Parkinson’s disease could serve as evidence in a lawsuit against a defendant who substantially contributed to the patient’s exposure.
The weight of the research can be used to help prove a case in court. The more research that comes out that strongly ties a particular toxin to Parkinson’s, the less that the defendant could try to hide behind the fact that there is no one known cause of Parkinson’s.
Paraquat Parkinson’s Disease Lawsuits
One recent case where we have seen allegations that a foreign substance has caused Parkinson’s is the Paraquat lawsuits. Over the years, tens of thousands of farm workers and people who live in the vicinity of farms have been exposed to this ultra-powerful chemical compound.
Although studies have shown that exposure to Paraqaut increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease by up to 600%, the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration still refuses to order the product pulled from the market. There are a growing number of lawsuits filed by people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s after Paraquat exposure.
Lawyers Helping People Who Have Been Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it is worth spending some time and effort to explore and pin down what you think may be the cause. You should contact an attorney to discuss a possible lawsuit because you can try to hold the party responsible for your exposure legally accountable.
Contact the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to learn more about whether you may have a lawsuit for your Parkinson’s disease. We can evaluate your case and let you know about your legal options. Your consultation is free, and you pay us nothing unless you win.