Parkinson's disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over¬†many years.
The 3 main symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:
- involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body¬†(tremor)¬†
- slow movement
- stiff and inflexible muscles
A person with Parkinson's disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms.
- depression¬†and anxiety
- balance problems (this¬†may increase the chances of a fall)
- loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
- problems sleeping (insomnia)
- memory problems
Seeking medical advice
See a GP if you're concerned that you may have symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
They'll ask about the problems you're experiencing and may¬†refer you to a specialist for further tests.
Parkinson's disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This¬†leads to a reduction¬†in a chemical called dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. A reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear. Most experts think that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible.
It's thought around 1 in 500 people are affected by Parkinson's disease.
Most people with Parkinson's start to develop symptoms when they're over 50, although around 1 in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms¬†when they're under 40.
Men are slightly more likely to get Parkinson's disease than women.
Although there's currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, treatments are available to help reduce the main symptoms and maintain quality of life for as long as possible.
- supportive treatments, such as physiotherapy¬†and occupational therapy
- in some cases, brain¬†surgery
You may not need any treatment during the early stages of Parkinson's disease, as symptoms are usually mild.
But you may need regular appointments with your specialist so your condition can be monitored.
As the condition progresses,¬†the symptoms of Parkinson's disease¬†can get worse and it can become increasingly difficult to carry out everyday activities without help.
Many¬†people respond well to treatment and only experience mild to moderate disability, whereas the minority may not respond as well and can, in time, become¬†more severely disabled.
Parkinson's disease¬†does not directly cause people to die, but the condition can place great strain on the body, and can make some people more vulnerable to serious and life-threatening infections.
But with advances in treatment, most people with Parkinson's disease now have a normal or near-normal life expectancy.
It may also¬†be useful to read information and advice on:¬†
Parkinson's UK is the main Parkinson's support and research charity in the UK.
They can help if you're living with the disease and let you know about support groups in your local area.
You can contact them by:
- calling their free helpline on 0808 800 0303 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm, and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays)
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The Parkinson's UK website features news, publications, research updates and an online community where you can share your experiences.