Parkinson's disease (PD) is a movement disorder. The symptoms get worse over time and can include:
Part of the Brain Affected by PD—Yellow Section
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PD is caused by a loss of certain nerve cells in the brain. The loss of these cells causes a decrease in the amount of a brain chemical called dopamine. Low dopamine levels cause PD symptoms.
The brain cells may be lost because of genetic defects, the environment, or some combination of the two. A small amount of people with PD have an early-onset form. This type is caused by an inherited gene defect.
Secondary PD has similar symptoms but is caused by several factors such as:
Factors that increase the chance of PD include:
Symptoms of PD begin mildly. They will worsen over time.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. There are no tests to definitively diagnose PD. The doctor will ask many questions. This will help to rule out other causes of your symptoms.
Tests to rule out other conditions may include:
Currently, there are no treatments to cure PD. There are also no proven treatments to slow or stop its progression. Some medications may help to improve symptoms. Over time, the side effects of the medication may become troublesome. The medications may also lose their effectiveness.
Examples of medicines include:
Depression or hallucinations may also occur with PD and its treatment. Medicines may be prescribed to attempt to treat these conditions. The drugs may include:
Hip fractures are common in those with PD. Bisphosphonates are medications that may help reduce this risk.
Constipation, drooling, and lightheadedness when standing are common and may improve with medications or other treatments.
Different brain operations are available, and many more are being researched including:
Therapy can improve muscle tone, strength, and balance. It will include exercises and stretches.
Consider joining a support group with other people with PD. It will help to learn how others are learning to live with the challenges of PD.
If you are diagnosed with PD, follow your doctor's instructions.
There are no guidelines for preventing PD.