Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects mobility and mental ability.
It is caused by a loss of never cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra.
This area is responsible for controlling and co-ordinating body movements.
If these nerve cells die, it causes body movements to become slow or abnormal.
While Parkinson’s disease isn’t fatal, related complications like fatal falls and deep vein thrombosis can reduce life expectancy.
And Parkinson’s is actually a lot more common than people might realise – it is estimated 127,000 people in the UK have the condition.
This week is Parkinson’s Awareness Week – seven days dedicated to raising awareness of the progressive disease.
The last significant drug discovery for Parkinson’s was over 50 years ago and there is currently no cure for the condition.
But while there is no cure, there are several options for controlling symptoms and it’s better to catch it early.
Most people recognise shaking as a sign of the disease but there are many other key warning signs you probably don’t know about.
Other symptoms can include:
4. Balance problems
These can make someone with the condition more likely to have a fall and injure themselves.
5. Loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
This sometimes occurs several years before other symptoms develop.
6. Nerve pain
This can cause unpleasant sensations, such as burning, coldness or numbness.
7. Problems urinating
This can include problems such as having to get up frequently during the night to urinate or unintentionally passing urine (urinary incontinence)
8. Erectile dysfunction and low sex drive
An inability to obtain or sustain an erection in men and difficulty becoming sexually aroused and achieving an orgasm in women.
9. Dizziness, blurred vision or fainting
This usually occurs when moving from a sitting or lying position to a standing one – caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis).
10. Swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)
This can lead to malnutrition and dehydration.
11. Excessive production of saliva (drooling)
12. Problems sleeping (insomnia)
This can result in excessive sleepiness during the day.
Cognitive and psychiatric symptoms can include:
13. Depression and anxiety
14. Mild cognitive impairment
Slight memory problems and problems with activities that require planning and organisation.
A group of symptoms including more severe memory problems, personality changes, seeing things that aren’t there and believing things that aren’t true.
Parkinson’s disease mostly effects people over the age of 60, but can come on at any age.
Men are more likely to get the disease and women with Parkinson’s tend to live longer than men with it.
For more information go to nhs.uk/conditions/parkinsons and to support Parkinson’s awareness Tweet with the hashtag #UniteforParkinsons
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