What Are The Causes And Symptoms Of Parkinson's Disease?

What Are The Causes And Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease?

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is caused by the death of neurons in certain regions of the brain that control bodily movements, called the substantia nigra pars compacta. In the early stages of PD, people often have tremors or shaking movements in their hands, arms, legs, and/or faces. As time progresses, these symptoms worsen and affect other areas of the body, including swallowing, speech, and walking as well as other functions like memory and cognition.

Photo: Parkinson’s Disease.

The causes

What causes Parkinson’s disease? That is a question that scientists and doctors still don’t know the answer to. There are many hypotheses, but no one has yet been able to find a single cause of this disease.
Parkinson’s disease is not caused by any one thing, but likely by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is some evidence that pesticides may be linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s, and people who have experienced severe head injuries or strokes are at higher risk as well. In addition, if you have certain other conditions such as AIDS or diabetes, your chance of getting Parkinson’s disease goes up.

Photo: The Anatomy of the Human.


Parkinson’s symptoms: Some of the symptoms can include tremors in your hands and limbs, trouble with balance and coordination (ataxia), slurred speech (dysarthria), muscle rigidity (lead pipe muscles), stiffness in the neck and back muscles (spasticity), drooling (ptyalalia) due to saliva production decreasing while swallowing becomes more difficult.

The symptoms

Parkinson’s disease has five stages, with symptoms at each stage varying slightly.

Early-onset Parkinson’s disease will have different symptoms than late-stage Parkinson’s disease, though they may have some of the same physical manifestations. Non motor symptoms include depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Parkinson’s disease also causes dementia in people who already have it or who don’t already suffer from it. Parkinson’s disease end of life symptoms includes difficulty swallowing and respiratory difficulties as well as pain. There are also non-motor symptoms including depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

Risk factors

Parkinson’s disease is caused by a lack of dopamine and brain cells. Parkinsonism is when people have Parkinson’s symptoms, but don’t have the underlying condition.

Drug-induced Parkinsonism occurs when certain medications interfere with the brain’s ability to regulate movement and produce dopamine. Parkinson’s disease may also be caused by head trauma or other injuries that damage the brain. Parkinson’s disease can develop in people who are 30 years old or younger.

Other risk factors include Parkinson’s family history, head injury from sports or military combat, herbicides like paraquat, insecticides like rotenone and maneb, being exposed to pesticides as a farmer or factory worker, and any previous treatments for cancer.
Parkinson’s disease does not cause dementia – Parkinsonism does not cause dementia either.

How to prevent it

As earlier stated, Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition that affects both the neurological system and the bodily components that are under the control of the nervous system. There are three main categories of Parkinson’s disease: idiopathic, symptomatic, and secondary Parkinsonism.

All three forms of Parkinson’s disease can lead to dementia if left untreated.
Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease is the most common type and it has no known cause. Symptomatic Parkinson’s disease is caused by other health problems such as brain injury or alcoholism. Secondary Parkinsonism occurs when other medical conditions affect the functioning of the central nervous system.

One of the biggest risks for Parkinson’s disease is family history. Those with first-degree relatives (parents, siblings) with Parkinson’s have a 20-50% chance of developing Parkinson’s themselves. However, Parkinson’s can also be caused by exposure to certain substances such as pesticides and herbicides, prolonged use of certain medications like Ritalin or levodopa (brand names include Sinemet), and some illicit drugs like amphetamines.

If you notice any signs or symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in yourself or your loved ones, consult a doctor immediately. If diagnosed early enough, doctors may be able to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease through medication and lifestyle changes but once Parkinson’s is more advanced there isn’t much they can do to help alleviate symptoms.

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How is it diagnosed?

Parkinson’s disease is often diagnosed based on a person’s symptoms. A doctor will usually do an examination of the person, including checking how they walk and how they respond to requests to move parts of their body. Sometimes other tests are done, such as blood tests or imaging scans of the brain.

Parkinson’s disease can also be diagnosed if someone has a close relative with the condition and there is no other explanation for the symptoms. Parkinsons gait is when people have trouble balancing when walking, which may make them feel like they’re shuffling instead of taking normal steps.

Parkinson’s tremor happens when people have involuntary movements in their hands, head, legs, or mouth that cause shaking and trembling. Parkinson’s signs and symptoms might include drooling, swallowing difficulty (dysphagia), facial pain due to muscle spasms (electric shocks), neck rigidity, and stiffness in limbs.

Parkinson’s disease causes dementia in many cases, but it is unclear why this happens. Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed by its 5 stages:

Stage 1 – early-stage Parkinson’s;

Stage 2 – mid-stage Parkinson’s;

Stage 3 – late stage Parkinson’s;

Stage 4 – end of life Parkinson’s;

Stage 5 – post-Parkinsonism.

Micrographia Parkinsons is when people have tiny handwriting because they are struggling to control hand muscles enough to write normally.

Managing your symptoms

There are many different symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and it is important to stay informed so that you can manage your symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms are shaking, stiffness, difficulty walking, and managing emotions, but there are many other non-motor symptoms as well. A person who has Parkinson’s may have trouble sleeping or staying asleep, anxiety, and depression. Some people experience hallucinations or delusions. Parkinson’s may also cause dementia in some cases.

If a person has these signs and symptoms for at least a year after age 50, they should see their doctor for an evaluation.
If a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, they should talk to their doctor about treatment options. Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but treatments exist that can help control the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

These treatments include medications such as levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet), dopamine agonists (Mirapex), anticholinergics (Robinul), and COMT inhibitors (Comtan). When someone has Parkinson’s disease, they will usually be prescribed medication from more than one category. Surgery may also be recommended when medical therapies do not work. Surgeries include deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery and thalamotomy.
There are 5 stages of Parkinson’s disease which are:

1 – mild tremors,

2 – slowness,

3 – rigidity,

4 – decreased movement on one side of the body only, and

5 – death.


Parkinson’s is caused by the loss of cells in parts of the brain called dopaminergic neurons due to certain environmental factors.

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In Summary

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition that affects both the neurological system and the bodily components that are under the control of the nervous system. Parkinson’s disease can cause dementia and has five stages. It is caused by an overabundance of dopamine in the brain. There are non-motor symptoms of parkinson’s disease such as depression, anxiety, and constipation.

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