Monthly Archives: April 2013

What causes hallucinations?


Van GoghHallucinations are a side effect associated with dopaminergic medicines used to treat Parkinson’s disease motor symptoms. Hallucinations are an altered perception of how our brain interprets information it receives about our environment, surroundings, senses and/or body sensations. Hallucinations can be visual, auditory or tactile. The most common type of hallucinations in PD are visual in nature. They may range from the experience of a simple illusion such as ‘seeing’ a spot on the wall turn into a well formed object such as a spider or they me be more complex and actual visions that do not exist. Sights of people and animals are common hallucinations. A person can have insight into and reason through the fact that a hallucination is not indeed real. In more advance cases, insight is lost and hallucinations are interpreted as real without the ability to reason that they are not grounded in reality.

The risk of experiencing hallucinations if you have Parkinson’s disease  increases with the following:

  • High levels of dopaminergic medicines. Specific medicines such as dopaminergic agonists, anticholinergic medicines and amantadine are associated with a higher risk of this problem.
  • Additive effect of other brain active medicines such as sedatives, sleeping aids, muscle relaxants, narcotic pain medicines and some bladder medicines.
  • Cognitive problems, confusion and dementia increases risk of hallucinations associated with Parkinson’s medicines.
  • Visual problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and reduced night vision can increase the risk of developing hallucinations especially at night. (Hallucinations are not directly caused by eye problems but reflect how the brain interprets sensory information. However, poor vision does exacerbate this problem in susceptible individuals.)
  • Stress can increase the risk – whether emotional, physical or the stress on your body from a medical condition or surgery.

Treatment includes:

  • Change or reduction in Parkinson’s medicines and other brain active medicines described above.
  • Antipsychotic medicines. Only two antipsychotic medicines are recommended for PD-clozapine and quetiapine. Other antipsychotics can worsen movement problems due their dopamine blocking activity.
  • Cognitive enhancing medicines such as Aricept or Exelon if dementia is a problem
  • Medical evaluation to insure other medical conditions are not contributing to the problem. Examples include cardiopulmonary disease, thyroid problems, vitamin B12 deficiency, infection, dehydration and kidney disease.
  • Lifestyle changes with a focus on stress management and improved sleep.
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Filed under Cognitive Health, Emotional Health, Medication Side Effects, Non-movement Symptoms, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Progression

How can I alert medical providers that I have DBS in an emergency? Can mammogram be done?


Deep brain stimulation viewed by skull Xray.It is important that your medical provider be aware that you have DBS since there are some procedures that can not be performed if you have DBS.  Examples of procedures that are not safe to be performed with DBS are body MRI, certain types of cautery and diathermy (a form of ultrasound used in specific situations to speed tissue healing.) It is recommended that your doctor call Medtronic Inc. (current DBS manufacturer) clinician support services (800) 707-0933 before any procedure to review if there are any concerns or interactions with your device.

One way to alert clinicians that you have DBS in an emergency situation is to wear a medic alert bracelet. This bracelet can be inscribed with important information such as allergies and a statement that you have DBS.  You can include the emergency clinician support phone number and warnings such as “MRI and diathermy contraindicated.”

Mammograms are often a concern because they are done close to the battery site. Mammograms can be performed as long as the technician avoids compression of the battery which is usually located just below the clavicle in the chest. It is important not to compress the battery or extension wires. Breast MRI can not be performed. Diagnostic ultrasound of suspicious breast lesions can usually be performed if needed; but once again the ultrasound probe should not be used over or directly adjacent to the battery. Your technician should call the Medtronic customer support number listed above for more specific guidance.

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Filed under Deep Braiin Stimulation, Self-Care

Top Ten Tips for Parkinson’s Disease- Tell us yours


Tremor is one the cardinal symptoms of ParkinsonsApril is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

Chances are you know the value of information and support if you are living with Parkinson’s disease. This blog brings so many people together with a single goal – living your best with Parkinson’s disease. Each person has their own idea of what helps, what gives the most sense of support, wellbeing, happiness and empowerment. Help us bring awareness and support to the community by telling us what has helped you the most.

Add your tips or helpful experience to the list below by replying to this post. This information will help us create a top ten tips for Parkinson’s

What are you grateful for?Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet Support and counseling important for depressionPhysical Therapist Working with PatientIntimacy comes in many formsYoga can improve balance

  • Get the information you need to understand your condition and the medicines used to treat it.
  • See a physical therapist to tailor your exercise program to your needs
  • Add antioxidants to your diet
  • Focus on the positive and what you can do not just what you can’t
  • Dont go it along. Reach out to others for help and give it in turn when you can
  • Reduce the effects of stress.
  • Search for balance in life- nourishing the mind,body and soul

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Filed under Encouragement, Inspiration and Motivation, Exercise, Lifestyle, Our Community, Self-Care