Early detection focus of April Parkinson's Awareness Month

By Vanessa Ybarra
April 16, 2017 - 12:08pm Updated: April 16, 2017 - 12:43pm

KAMLOOPS —  April is Parkinsons Awareness month.

With the chronic movement disease affecting approximately 100,000 Canadians, the global campaign is aimed to educate people on the early warning signs and medical services available.

While people 50 years and older are most at risk of getting the disease, Jean Blake, CEO of Parkinson Society British Columbia, says they're seeing more people under the age of 50 being diagnosed, with some patients as young as 20 or 30.

"Some of the early symptoms which don't always connect with Parkinson's is a lot of people start losing their sense of smell," said Blake. "They may also have gastrointestinal issues because motility of the gut starts getting reduced."

Those with Parkinson's in their family history are more likely to come down with the disease that affects more men than woman. 

Blake says research shows the disease is more prevalent in communities that rely on pesticide use. 

"In communities where a lot of pesticides are used in agriculture and people are reliant on ground-water for drinking, we see higher incidents of the disease," said Blake. 

While there's still no cure, Blake says there are medications to help maintain quality of life. 

"You can live really well with this disease if you get diagnosed early enough. It's a regime of appropriate medication, exercise to help manage the symptoms and now we're even getting some good information about nutrition in terms of how nutrition can help better manage the symptoms."

More than 40 people belong to the Kamloops Parkinsons Awareness Group.

The group meets the third Wednesday of every month at the Desert Garden Community Care Centre at 1 p.m, with new people always welcome.

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