Low levels of
dopamine, a brain chemical involved
in controlling movement, cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Low levels happen when nerve cells in a part of the brain that makes dopamine break down. The exact cause of this
breakdown isn't known.
Scientists are looking for links between
Parkinson's disease and genetics,
aging, toxins in the environment, and
free radicals. Although
these studies are beginning to provide some answers, experts don't know the
exact cause of the disease.
Usually, the outward symptoms of Parkinson's are distinctive enough for a doctor to make a diagnosis in the office. There is no blood test or brain scan that confirms the diagnosis. But if you don't respond to the drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, it’s possible you may have another type of movement disorder that causes the same type of symptoms. Doing additional tests can help your doctor determine if some other problem is causing your parkinsonian symptoms.
Only a small
percentage of people with Parkinson's have a parent, brother, or sister
who has the disease. But abnormal
genes do seem to be a factor in a few families where
early-onset Parkinson's is common.
There are many other causes
of parkinsonism, which is a group of symptoms that includes tremor, muscle
stiffness, slow movement, and unsteady walking. Parkinsonism mimics Parkinson's
disease, but in fact is not Parkinson's disease.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
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