Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressing neurodegenerative disorder resulting from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Dopamine is the chemical that controls the body’s movements by carrying signals between the nerves and the brain. As dopamine decreases, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. In Canada, people first experience Parkinson’s symptoms at an average age of 64.4 years. 85% of the Canadians that are diagnosed with Parkinson’s are over the age of 65.
The most common symptoms are:
- rigid/stiff muscles
- slow movement
- difficulty with walking/loss of balance
Other symptoms can include:
- cognitive impairment
- emotional changes
- soft speech
- problems with handwriting
- stooped posture
- sleeping difficulty
- difficulty with chewing and/or swallowing
- little or no facial expressions
The cause of Parkinson’s disease is currently unknown and thus methods to prevent the disease are unrevealed. There is, however, some research that has indicated that caffeine, green tea and regular aerobic exercise may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Although Parkinson’s can’t be cured, medications and other treatment options are available to help manage its symptoms. Parkinson’s disease itself is not fatal but complications from the disease are serious.