[BLOG] 5 Surprising Facts About Parkinson's Disease

Published: 22/05/2019

As last week was Parkinson's Awareness Week, we wanted to take the opportunity to write a blog that allows for people to learn a few of the lesser-known facts about Parkinson’s Disease.  

As last week was Parkinson's Awareness Week, we wanted to take the opportunity to write a blog that allows for people to learn a few of the lesser-known facts about Parkinson’s Disease.  

 

1. There's no standard test to diagnose for Parkinson's

Parkinson’s UK explain that it’s not easy to diagnose Parkinson's because there are currently no blood or laboratory tests that confirm a person has the disease.

Instead, a specialist will usually diagnose the condition by investigating symptoms, consider the patients’ neurological history and perform an examination to observe expressions, tremors, balance and muscle stiffness.

The time to receive a confirmed diagnosis can vary from person to person. This can be due to a number of things, including medical history, age and what symptoms are currently present.

The specialist will want to rule out other potential causes of symptoms before they give a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.

 

2. Research into finding a cure continues

At the moment, there is no cure for Parkinson's Disease.

However, Parkinson’s UK discuss current research into future treatments which is concerned with looking to replace depleted dopamine by using drugs that either mimic its actions or prevent the remaining nerve cells from being broken down so they remain more effective.

Dopamine is a chemical which allows messages to be sent to the parts of the brain that co-ordinate movement. Parkinson's occurs due to a loss of nerve cells in the brain and it can be seen that symptoms of Parkinson's emerge when around 70% of cells have been lost.

These nerve cells that die responsible for producing dopamine, therefore, with the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells, parts of the brain are unable to function normally, causing the symptoms of Parkinson's to appear.
While there is currently no cure, Parkinson’s UK have a wealth of information on their website on the therapies available and advice on managing Parkinson’s.

 

3. People of all ages can develop Parkinson's.

The majority of people who get Parkinson's are over 50 but the disease can affect younger people too. The NHS advise that around 1 in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they are under 40.

 

4. Men are almost twice as likely to develop Parkinson's as women.

Over the past few years, several studies have shown that men are more vulnerable to getting Parkinson's compared to women. Although researchers have not definitely confirmed why this might be, Parkinson’s UK advise that some studies have suggested that the presence of the female hormone oestrogen has a potential protective effect on the nervous symptom.

 

5. Parkinson’s doesn’t just affect movement

Although Parkinson’s disease is typical characterised by four main symptoms (1. Tremors in the arms, hands, legs or jaw 2. Muscle stiffness 3. Impaired coordination 4. Slow movement), a lot of patients experience other non-motor symptoms such as such as tiredness, pain, depression, anxiety, problems with memory and constipation. These non-motor symptoms are often what impact the most on people’s abilities to perform their daily activities.

 

Where can you find out more?

If you would like to speak to someone about Parkinson’s you can call the Parkinson’s UK free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303. The helpline is staffed by specialist nurses and advisers who you can talk to about any aspect of the condition.

You can also find out more about Parkinson’s and the support Parkinson’s UK offers – including the UK-wide network of information and support workers and local groups – by visiting their website parkinsons.org.uk