Published on September 11th, 2019
Last updated on June 6th, 2020
Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating condition that affects the brain and its ability to control movement. While it typically occurs in elderly people, it is also found in younger adults. Regardless of how old you are when you develop Parkinson’s disease, it can significantly reduce your overall quality of life.
While what causes this condition is still a mystery, experts know the symptoms are a result of gradual degeneration in the nerve cells which control movement. For many, tremors at rest are the earliest signs. They can also be unilateral (on one side of the body).
Parkinson disease is associated with the loss of neurons in the basal ganglia (responsible for motor action smoothness and preciseness), which secretes dopamine. Loss of these neurons leads to the three cardinal features of Parkinson’s disease, which are tremors, rigidity, and bradykinesia (slow movement). Experts believe that Parkinson’s disease causes the degeneration of cells that provide some of these actions, thereby throwing off the overall balance. The full extent of this relationship is still being researched. Nevertheless, evidence indicates that Parkinson’s may be related to other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Huntington’s disease, and more.
According to experts, the precise cause of the vast majority of Parkinson’s cases is unknown. However, they do have some leads. One of the primary risk factors for Parkinson’s disease that we know is genetics. While not all cases have a genetic component, many do. Other causes are things as varied as viral infections or even exposure to toxins, such as carbon monoxide.
While not an extremely common condition, it does affect a significant number of people worldwide. Sixty thousand people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year in America, with over 6 million persons estimated to suffer from Parkinson’s disease globally.
If you’re worried that you or a loved one may be experiencing the early signs of Parkinson’s disease, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Only a professional can accurately diagnose and treat conditions such as Parkinson’s.