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Parkinson's Disease - Cause

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.

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Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment

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.

Read the Understanding Parkinson's Disease -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

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

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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