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Ask Dr. Gott 6/26
Parkinson's disease progresses differently for different people
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I was diagnosed as having Parkinson's disease. While I've apparently had the condition for a long time, my posture is the same as it has been for many years. In fact, everything is the same.
    DEAR READER: As I am sure you are aware, Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that occurs when nerve cells in a part of the brain die or become impaired.
    Early symptoms are extremely subtle and vary. Some people might have difficulty getting out of a chair, handwriting might appear cramped, the sense of smell or memory might be affected, and irritability and depression might be observed. More obvious symptoms include tremor of the hand or mouth, muscle rigidity, slowed movement, gait abnormality and urinary incontinence or constipation. Postural instability and other features may come into play as the disease progresses.
    You don't indicate why your doctor has diagnosed you with Parkinson's, but you must be exhibiting some symptoms for him or her to have come to that conclusion. I suggest you make an appointment with a neurologist to discuss the matter. This type of specialist can confirm your diagnosis if you truly have Parkinson's. If not, he or she can order testing and then provide you with a new diagnosis. Keep in mind that some Parkinson's sufferers have only mild cases that may take years to worsen, if at all. The other end of the spectrum is severe symptoms that may go from mild to severe and eventually lead to death in only a matter of months or a few years.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Parkinson's Disease."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I'm writing regarding your past column concerning the side effects of Actonel. I've taken Fosamax and Boniva for osteoporosis and had terrible reactions to both. The first one put me in the hospital for five days because I was having the same symptoms as a heart attack. The Boniva that I was switched to gave me the same reaction, just not as bad. Still, it was enough to scare me. My doctor said we would never try those medications again.
    DEAR READER: As I have reported, Actonel is ordinarily a beneficial drug. However, some people suffer side effects. Most are mild and do not justify discontinuing the drug, yet some are extremely serious. Chest and back pain, esophageal stricture, joint pain, nausea, diarrhea, back and abdominal pain, hypertension, urinary-tract infections and more have been reported. As I've said in the past, all biphosphonates can cause osteonecrosis of the jaw, destruction and death of bone tissue. Any decision to begin a trial of a drug should be discussed in depth with your physician.
    You appear to be extremely sensitive to this class of drug. Your physician has correctly stated that enough is enough. Try taking 1200 milligrams of calcium combined with 600 IU of vitamin D daily as an alternative. You should also eat healthful meals, including foods that are high in calcium. Exercise to the extent of your capabilities to maintain strong, healthy bones.
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