Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder and a type of movement disorder. A person’s brain may stop producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls the movement. With less dopamine produced, the person’s ability to control their movement does as well.
Many people’s symptoms may take years to develop and may not appear in the same order or same degree as others. Parkinson’s disease may affect people in different ways. For some, the disease can progress slowly, while others can experience a faster progression.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms can include:
- Tremors or shaking of the hands, arms, legs, jaw or face
- Rigidity or stiffness of limbs or trunk
- Slowness of movements
- Difficulties with balance, speech and coordination
- Poor sense of smell
- Cognitive impairment
Currently, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. However, there are several risk factors that increase the development of the disease.
- Genetics – A small percentage of Parkinson’s disease cases are caused by genetics. However, data is showing more cases are caused by genetics than previously thought.
- Advancing age – This is the biggest risk factor, although there are cases of young adults developing the disease.
- Gender – Men are more likely to develop PD than women. This may be due to an increased exposure to other risk factors including head trauma.
- Environmental roles – Along with the genetic factor, many scientists believe exposure to one or more environmental toxins could also be the cause of Parkinson’s disease.
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease but medications may be available to treat the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. In some cases, surgery may be an option to treat some of the symptoms.