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Learn the more about Parkinsons disease
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Parkinsons disease is a condition in which part of the brain becomes progressively more damaged over many years (a progressive neurological condition). The three main symptoms of Parkinsons disease are related to movement:
  1. Involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body - known as tremor
  2. Muscle stiffness that can make everyday tasks such as getting out of a chair very difficult - this is known as rigidity
  3. Physical movements become very slow - known as Bradykinesia
A person with Parkinsons disease can also experience a wide range of symptoms unrelated to movement (non-motor symptoms) such as:

  1. Depression
  2. Daytime sleepiness
  3. Dysphagia (difficulties swallowing)

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Treating Parkinsons disease




There is currently no cure for Parkinsons disease though a medication called levodopa has proved effective in relieving symptoms. Unfortunately after around 3-5 years use the effectiveness of levodopa is reduced. After this time people can experience a sudden return of symptoms (this is known as an off episode) as well an involuntary jerking of their muscles (dyskinesias). At this point additional medication is usually required. There are also a range of non-pharmaceutical treatments that can be used to manage symptoms, such as speech and language therapy and physiotherapy


What causes Parkinsons disease?


Parkinsons 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 this reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear. Most experts think that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible.

Who is affected

It is estimated that around 1 in 500 people are affected by Parkinsons disease and there are currently 127,000 people in the UK with the condition. The average age for the symptoms to start is around 60; although around 1 in 20 cases first develop in people aged under 50. Men are one-and-half times more likely to get Parkinsons disease than women.



In England, the ethnic group most likely to develop Parkinsons disease is white people. Rates are significantly lower in black and Asian people.



Outlook



Parkinsons disease is not fatal but the condition can place great strain on the body. Some people respond well to treatments and only experience mild to moderate disability, while others experience severe disability. Due to the advancements in treatment, people with Parkinsons disease now often have a normal or near-normal life expectancy.

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