disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that
affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting
with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a
tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinsonís
disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or
slowing of movement.
early stages of Parkinsonís disease, your face may show
little or no expression, or your arms may not swing when you
walk. Your speech may become soft or slurred. Parkinsonís
disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over
Parkinsonís disease canít be cured, medications may
markedly improve your symptoms. In occasional cases, your
doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your
brain and improve your symptoms.
disease symptoms and signs may vary from person to person.
Early signs may be mild and may go unnoticed. Symptoms often
begin on one side of your body and usually remain worse on
that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides.
signs and symptoms may include:
Tremor. A tremor, or shaking, usually begins in a limb, often
your hand or fingers. You may notice a back-and-forth rubbing
of your thumb and forefinger, known as a pill-rolling tremor.
One characteristic of Parkinsonís disease is a tremor of
your hand when it is relaxed (at rest).
Slowed movement (bradykinesia). Over time, Parkinsonís
disease may reduce your ability to move and slow your
movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming.
Your steps may become shorter when you walk, or you may find
it difficult to get out of a chair. Also, you may drag your
feet as you try to walk, making it difficult to move.
Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your
body. The stiff muscles can limit your range of motion and
cause you pain.
Impaired posture and balance. Your posture may become stooped,
or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinsonís
of automatic movements. In Parkinsonís disease, you may have
a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements,
including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you
Speech changes. You may have speech problems as a result of
Parkinsonís disease. You may speak softly, quickly, slur or
hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone
rather than with the usual inflections.
Writing changes. It may become hard to write, and your writing
may appear small.
SEE A DOCTOR
doctor if you have any of the symptoms associated with
Parkinsonís disease ó not only to diagnose your condition
but also to rule out other causes for your symptoms.
Parkinsonís disease, certain nerve cells (neurons) in the
brain gradually break down or die. Many of the symptoms are
due to a loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger in
your brain called dopamine. When dopamine levels decrease, it
causes abnormal brain activity, leading to signs of Parkinsonís
disease.The cause of Parkinsonís disease is unknown, but
several factors appear to play a role, including:
genes. Researchers have identified specific genetic mutations
that can cause Parkinsonís disease, but these are uncommon
except in rare cases with many family members affected by
Parkinsonís disease.However, certain gene variations appear
to increase the risk of Parkinsonís disease but with a
relatively small risk of Parkinsonís disease for each of
these genetic markers.
Environmental triggers. Exposure to certain toxins or
environmental factors may increase the risk of later Parkinsonís
disease, but the risk is relatively small.
have also noted that many changes occur in the brains of
people with Parkinsonís disease, although itís not clear
why these changes occur. These changes include:
presence of Lewy bodies. Clumps of specific substances within
brain cells are microscopic markers of Parkinsonís disease.
These are called Lewy bodies, and researchers believe these
Lewy bodies hold an important clue to the cause of Parkinsonís
Alpha-synuclein is found within Lewy bodies. Although many
substances are found within Lewy bodies, scientists believe an
important one is the natural and widespread protein called
alpha-synuclein (A-synuclein). Itís found in all Lewy bodies
in a clumped form that cells canít break down. This is
currently an important focus among Parkinsonís disease
factors for Parkinsonís disease include:
Young adults rarely experience Parkinsonís disease. It
ordinarily begins in middle or late life, and the risk
increases with age. People usually develop the disease around
age 60 or older.
Heredity. Having a close relative with Parkinsonís disease
increases the chances that youíll develop the disease.
However, your risks are still small unless you have many
relatives in your family with Parkinsonís disease.
Men are more likely to develop Parkinsonís disease than are
to toxins. Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may
put you at a slightly increased risk of Parkinsonís disease.
disease is often accompanied by these additional problems,
which may be treatable:
Thinking difficulties. You may experience cognitive problems
(dementia) and thinking difficulties, which usually occur in
the later stages of Parkinsonís disease. Such cognitive
problems arenít very responsive to medications.
Depression and emotional changes. People with Parkinsonís
disease may experience depression. Receiving treatment for
depression can make it easier to handle the other challenges
of Parkinsonís disease. You may also experience other
emotional changes, such as fear, anxiety or loss of
motivation. Doctors may give you medications to treat these
Swallowing problems. You may develop difficulties with
swallowing as your condition progresses. Saliva may accumulate
in your mouth due to slowed swallowing, leading to drooling.
Sleep problems and sleep disorders. People with Parkinsonís
disease often have sleep problems including waking up
frequently throughout the night, waking up early or falling
asleep during the day. People may also experience rapid eye
movement sleep behavior disorder, which involves acting out
your dreams. Medications may help your sleep problems.
Bladder problems. Parkinsonís disease may cause bladder
problems, including being unable to control urine or having
Constipation. Many people with Parkinsonís disease develop
constipation, mainly due to a slower digestive tract.
Blood pressure changes. You may feel dizzy or lightheaded when
you stand due to a sudden drop in blood pressure (orthostatic
Smell dysfunction. You may experience problems with your sense
of smell. You may have difficulty identifying certain odors or
the difference between odors.
Fatigue. Many people with Parkinsonís disease lose energy
and experience fatigue, and the cause isnít always known.
Pain. Many people with Parkinsonís disease experience pain,
either in specific areas of their bodies or throughout their
Sexual dysfunction. Some people with Parkinsonís disease
notice a decrease in sexual desire or performance.
the cause of Parkinsonís is unknown, proven ways to prevent
the disease also remain a mystery. However, some research has
shown that caffeine ó which is found in coffee, tea and cola
ó may reduce the risk of developing Parkinsonís disease.
Green tea also may reduce the risk of developing Parkinsonís
research has shown that regular aerobic exercise may reduce
the risk of Parkinsonís disease.