What’s the Issue?

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common degenerative braindisease after Alzheimer’s. It affects the part of the brain controllingmovement and coordination. There are four primary symptoms ofParkinson’s:

  • Tremors (part(s) of the body shake or move without control)
  • Slowed physical movement
  • Stiffness in the arms, legs, or body
  • Difficulty balancing

Intensity of symptoms varies from person to person.

It is a chronic and progressive disease, resulting in death or injury of nerve cells in the midbrain. These cells allow the brain tocommunicate with itself and coordinate the body’s movement. A breakdownin these cells can lead to unregulated body movement, which can makeperforming simple functions, such as swallowing or using the bathroom,difficult.

Why Should I Care?

The cause of Parkinson’s is still unknown and it is not clear yetwhether it has a genetic component. At any age, men are 1.5 times morelikely than women to get Parkinson’s disease. It is not clear why menare affected more often, but some researchers believe men are exposed to environmental toxins more frequently that can trigger the disease.

Parkinson’s tends to affect people over the age of 50, but it hasalso been diagnosed in younger people, which is called “young onset”Parkinson’s disease.

What Can I Do?

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but the diseasecan be managed with different treatments. The goal of treatment is tohelp manage and improve quality of life so that patients can continue to function independently as much as possible. Talk to your health careprovider to see what may be right for you.

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Last Update: November 2012