LifestyleAlzheimer's Disease vs. Parkinson's Disease: Know the Differences

Alzheimer’s Disease vs. Parkinson’s Disease: Know the Differences

Having a hard time telling apart Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease? Well, this article is for you. Below you will find the key differences between the two. But first, let us tackle some of their similarities:

  • Both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease commonly strike later on in life, usually after 50 years of age.
  • They are neurodegenerative in nature, which means the brain cells get damaged and die.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are progressive — they worsen with the passing of time.
  • During their late stages, dementia happens — severe memory problems, impaired reasoning and personality changes. However, a large portion of dementia cases is usually due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Now let us take a look at the differences:

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • It begins with the decline of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and the parts of the brain that are initially affected include the hippocampus as well as the entorhinal cortex. Experts say that both the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex are important role players in memory and critical thinking.
  • Someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease will experience a decline in cognitive functioning. Definitely, he or she will have poor memory. According to experts, someone with the disease may also exhibit psychiatric and behavioral changes. Sundowning is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, and it is characterized by increased confusion or agitation in the late afternoon or early evening.
  • All over the planet, it is estimated that 43 million people are affected with Alzheimer’s disease, and about 5.5 million of them can be found in the US.
  • Certain drugs may be administered to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, although these drugs can only slow down the depletion of acetylcholine and not stimulate its production.

Parkinson’s Disease

  • It stems from the loss of special neurons in the brain, in particular in the area called “substantia nigra”, that produce dopamine. A neurotransmitter, dopamine is necessary for controlling movement as well as coordination. With the levels of dopamine reduced, movement disorders take place.
  • Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include impaired coordination, slowed movements (akinesis) and muscle rigidity. There is also resting tremor observed, which consists of shakings that happen while the person is at rest. Resting tremor usually affects the wrist and fingers, giving rise to the so-called “pill-rolling”, a hallmark sign of the disease.
  • Worldwide cases of Parkinson’s disease is estimated to be anywhere from 5 to 6 million. A million of those who are afflicted with the disease is said to be in the US.
  • Available therapies for Parkinson’s disease include surgery as well as the administration of drugs that increase dopamine levels in the brain, although the benefits of these drugs are said to diminish after some time.
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