What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease (also known as Parkinson disease, Parkinson’s, idiopathic parkinsonism, primary parkinsonism, PD or paralysis agitans) is a progressive debilitating neurodegenerative disorder of the motor system. The disease results in the loss of the neurons or nerve cells that contain dopamine in the substantia niera, the part of the brain that controls movement.
What causes Parkinson’s disease?
The cause is unknown though several factors are considered to be linked to the development of the disease. Approximately 15% of sufferers have a family history of the disease, but it has not been proven whether this is due to genetic or environmental factors. One theory is that environmental factors such as toxins play a part in the neurons ability to produce dopamine. Other theories focus on the neurons dying due to the aging process or because of exposure to free radicals. Though the causes of the disease have not been proven, the following factors increase the risk of Parkinson’s;
* Genetic link to a sufferer
* Head trauma
* Environmental exposure to pesticides
* Rural living
* High fat diet
There are also three factors that have been associated with a decreased risk of Parkinson’s, these are cigarette smoking, anti-oxidants being present in diet and having measles early in life.
Parkinson’s disease Symptoms
Motor symptoms are the primary symptom, with tremors starting in one area (e.g. a hand or leg) and then developing in other parts of the body. However, not all tremors are due to Parkinson’s disease. Stiffness and slowness in movements are also symptoms of the disease and can cause cramps and soreness. Sufferers may develop issues with walking imbalance, feet shuffling and stooped posture. Parkinson’s disease may also cause swallowing difficulties and gastrointestinal problems such as constipation and incontinence. The disease may inhibit brain function and cause dementia. Sufferers may also experience fatigue, depression and emotional changes.