Parkinson’s disease affects movement and is a progressive disorder of the nervous system. The symptoms can appear gradually and sometimes start with barely visible tremors in one hand. Although tremors are quite common, stiffness and slowing down of movement can also be a result.
Your face might not show any expression in the initial stages of Parkinson’s disease. You may notice that your arms are not moving when you walk. You may have difficulty speaking or your speech might become softened. Parkinson’s disease symptoms can worsen with time.
While Parkinson’s can’t always be reversed, medication may help to improve symptoms. Sometimes, your doctor might recommend surgery to improve certain areas of your brain.
Different signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can appear for different people. The early signs of Parkinson’s disease may not be obvious and can often go untreated. The symptoms usually start on one side and can become more severe on the other side.
Parkinson’s symptoms and signs may include:
Tremor. Tremor is a shaking sensation that usually starts in one limb (often your hand or fingers). A pill-rolling tremor is when your thumb and forefinger rub back and forth. When your hand is at rest, it may feel tingly.
Slowed movement (bradykinesia). Parkinson’s disease can slow down your movement over time. This could make simple tasks more difficult or time-consuming. Walking may cause your steps to become smaller. Sometimes it can be hard to get up from a chair. It is possible to drag your feet while you walk.
Tight muscles. Any part of the body can experience muscle stiffness. Stiff muscles can cause pain and restrict your movement.
Balance and posture problems. Parkinson’s disease can cause a change in your posture or balance.
Automatic movements may be lost. A decreased ability to make unconscious movements such as blinking, smiling, or swinging your arms while walking.
Speech changes. It is possible to speak slowly, softly, fast, or slur before speaking. You may speak more monotonically than usual, with fewer infections.
The art of writing changes. Writing can become difficult and may seem small.
If you experience any symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, consult your doctor immediately. This is not just to diagnose the condition but to rule out possible causes.
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the death or gradual destruction of nerve cells in the brain (neurons). A loss in neurons, which produce dopamine (a chemical messenger) within your brain is responsible for many of these symptoms. A decrease in dopamine can cause abnormal brain activity and lead to Parkinson’s symptoms such as impaired movement.
Although the cause of Parkinson’s disease remains unknown, several factors may play an important role.
Genes. Scientists have discovered specific genetic mutations which can lead to Parkinson’s disease. These are rare, except for those with Parkinson’s disease-related family members.
However, some gene variants may increase Parkinson’s risk but each one has a small chance of developing the disease.
Environmental triggers. Although the chance of developing Parkinson’s later in life is higher if you are exposed to toxic substances or other environmental factors, the likelihood is very low.
The cause of Parkinson’s disease is still unknown. Therefore, there are no known ways to stop it.
Research has found that aerobic exercise can reduce Parkinson’s disease risk.