Parkinson's Disease is part of a bigger group of neurological conditions known as motor system disorders. Parkinson's is a disorder affecting nerve cells (neurons) in the part of the brain controlling muscle movement. After Alzheimers Disease, Parkinsons Disease is the most common neuro-degenerative disease to affect the human race.
Parkinsons Disease is characterized by:
Parkinson's Disease mostly develops in people after the age of 50, but the disease also affects a small percentage of younger people as well. Approximately, 0.1-0.2% of the population have Parkinson's, but for people over 50, people are ten times more likely to suffer from the disease, with 1-2% of the over 50's having Parkinson's.
More than 4 people million in the world have Parkinson's - more than those affected by Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Muscular Dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig's Disease combined. Over one million people in the United States alone have Parkinson's.
Parkinson's is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms become more and more severe over time. While after many years, Parkinson's may be disabling,the disease usually develops so slowly that the vast majority of people have many years of productive living after a diagnosis before the symptoms become severe.
Unlike many other serious neurological diseases, the symptoms of Parkinson's are mostly treatable with a range of medications and treatments, and these can be used to reduce the effects of Parkinsons.
There is no particular hurry to begin treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson's. If treatment is not started immediately, then the person is not disadvantaged in any way. In fact, some specialists suggest that a person waits until their symptoms are causing some troubles with their daily living before they start treatment.
Various drugs can improve the physical symptoms, but they can have a range of side-effects that include hallucinations, delusions, and a temporary worsening of confusion and abnormal movements.
Though full-blown Parkinson's can be crippling or disabling, early symptoms of may be so subtle and gradual that patients sometimes ignore them or attribute them to the effects of aging. For example, initially patients may feel overly tired, "down in the dumps," or a little shaky. Or, their speech may become soft and they may become irritable for no reason. Movements may be stiff, unsteady, or unusually slow.
Late in the course of the disease, some people may develop dementia.