Parkinson's disease 

Introduction 

Parkinson's disease: Karen's story

Karen Rose was diagnosed with Parkinson's at just 34 years of age. She talks about the impact it's had on her life over the past 10 years.

Media last reviewed: 22/11/2013

Next review due: 22/11/2015

Parkinson’s UK

Parkinson’s UK is the main Parkinson’s support and research charity in the UK. They can help if you are living with the disease and let you know about support groups in your local area.

Their contact details are:

The Parkinson's UK website features news, publications, research updates and an online community where you can share your experiences.

Living with a disability

Get practical, financial and emotional support, whether you're disabled or a carer

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which part of the brain becomes progressively damaged over many years.

The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • tremor (involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body)
  • slow movement
  • stiff and inflexible muscles

A person with Parkinson’s disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms, including depression, constipation, problems sleeping (insomnia), loss of sense of smell (anosmia) and memory problems.

Read more about the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Seeking medical advice

See your GP if you are concerned that you may have symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Your GP will ask about the problems you are experiencing and may refer you to a specialist for further tests.

Read more about diagnosing Parkinson's disease.

What causes Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a reduction in the amount of a chemical called dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body and a reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear. Most experts think that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible.

Read more about the causes of Parkinson’s disease.

Who is affected

It's thought that around one in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease, which means there are an estimated 127,000 people in the UK with the condition.

Most people with Parkinson's start to develop symptoms when they are over 50, although around one in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they are under 40.

Men are more likely to get Parkinson’s disease than women.

How Parkinson’s disease is treated

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, although treatments are available to help reduce the main symptoms and maintain your quality of life for as long as possible.

These include supportive treatments (such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy), medication and, in some cases, surgery.

You may not need any treatment during the early stages of Parkinson's disease as symptoms are usually mild. However, you may need regular appointments with your specialist so that your condition can be monitored.

Read more about treating Parkinson’s disease.

Outlook

As the condition progresses, the symptoms of Parkinson's disease can get worse and it can become increasingly difficult to carry out everyday activities without assistance.

Some people respond well to treatment and only experience mild to moderate disability, whereas others eventually become severely disabled.

Parkinson's disease does not directly cause people to die, but the condition can place great strain on the body and can make some people more vulnerable to serious and life-threatening infections.

However, with advances in treatment, most people with Parkinson’s disease now have a normal or near-normal life expectancy.

Read more about living with Parkinson's disease.




Page last reviewed: 02/04/2014

Next review due: 02/04/2016

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

maximilian said on 09 October 2010

Whatever else you may do if you have Parkinson''s Disease (PD), join a branch of the PD Society - now known as Parkinson's UK. This choice will open your understanding of PD, its symptoms (some say 'signs'),medication available and the benefits or problems that prevail. You will also discover that PD patients are people who have had to learn how to cope with a difficult condition. They tend to be humbled folk.

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