Parkinson's disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.
Symptoms of Parkinson's disease
The 3 main symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:
involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor)
stiff and inflexible muscles
A person with Parkinson's disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms.
balance problems (this may increase the chances of a fall)
loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
problems sleeping (insomnia)
Seeking medical advice
See a GP if you're concerned that you may have symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
They'll ask about the problems you're experiencing and may refer you to a specialist for further tests.
Causes of Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. A reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear. Most experts think that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible.
It's thought around 1 in 500 people are affected by Parkinson's disease.
Most people with Parkinson's start to develop symptoms when they're over 50, although around 1 in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they're under 40.
Men are slightly more likely to get Parkinson's disease than women.
Treating Parkinson's disease
Although there's currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, treatments are available to help reduce the main symptoms and maintain quality of life for as long as possible.
in some cases, brain surgery
You may not need any treatment during the early stages of Parkinson's disease, as symptoms are usually mild.
But you may need regular appointments with your specialist so your condition can be monitored.