What is Parkinson's disease?
affects the way you move. It happens when there is a problem with certain nerve
cells in the brain.
Normally, these nerve cells make an important
dopamine. Dopamine sends signals to the part of your
brain that controls movement. It lets your muscles move smoothly and do what
you want them to do. When you have Parkinson’s, these nerve cells break down.
Then you no longer have enough dopamine, and you have trouble moving the way
you want to.
Parkinson’s is progressive, which means it gets
worse over time. But usually this happens slowly, over a period of many years.
And there are good treatments that can help you live a full life.
No one knows for
sure what makes these nerve cells break down. But scientists are doing a lot of
research to look for the answer. They are studying many possible causes,
including aging and poisons in the environment.
genes seem to lead to Parkinson's disease in some
people. But so far, there is not enough proof to show that it is always
What are the symptoms?
The four main symptoms of
means shaking or trembling. Tremor may affect your hands, arms, or legs.
- Stiff muscles.
- Slow movement.
- Problems with balance or walking.
Tremor may be the first symptom you notice. It is one of
the most common signs of the disease, although not everyone has it. More
importantly, not everyone with a tremor has Parkinson's disease. Tremor often
starts in just one arm or leg or only on one side of the body. It may be worse
when you are awake but not moving the affected arm or leg. It may get better
when you move the limb or you are asleep.
In time, Parkinson’s
affects muscles all through your body, so it can lead to problems like trouble
swallowing or constipation. In the later stages of the disease, a person with
Parkinson’s may have a fixed or blank expression, trouble speaking, and other
problems. Some people also have a decrease in mental skills (dementia).
People usually start to have
symptoms between the ages of 50 and 60. But in some people symptoms start
How is Parkinson's disease diagnosed?
will ask questions about your symptoms and your past health and will do a
neurological exam. A neurological exam includes questions and tests that show
how well your nerves are working. For example, your doctor will watch how you
move, check your muscle strength and reflexes, and check your vision. In some
cases, your doctor may have you try a medicine. How this medicine works may
help your doctor know if you have Parkinson's disease. He or she will also ask
questions about your mood.