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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. The disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.Certain nerve cells (neurons) in the brain gradually break down or die. The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, but several factors appear to play a role, including:
Your genes: specific genetic mutations that can cause Parkinson’s disease.
Environmental triggers: Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of later Parkinson’s disease, but the risk is relatively small.
Presence of Lewy bodies: Clumps of specific substances within brain cells are microscopic markers of Parkinson’s disease. These are called Lewy bodies. Alpha-synuclein is found within Lewy bodies.
Symptoms: Symptoms often begin on one side of your body and usually remain worse on that side, even after symptoms begin to affect both sides.
Tremor: A tremor, or shaking, usually begins in a limb, often your hand or fingers. You may notice a back-and-forth rubbing of your thumb and forefinger, known as a pill-rolling tremor.
Bradykinesia: Over time, Parkinson’s disease may reduce your ability to move and slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming.
Rigid muscles: Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. The stiff muscles can limit your range of motion and cause you pain.
Impaired posture and balance: Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
Loss of automatic movements: In Parkinson’s disease, you may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
Speech changes:You may have speech problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease. You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking.
Writing changes: It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.
Age: Young adults rarely experience Parkinson’s disease. It ordinarily begins in middle or late life, and the risk increases with age. People usually develop the disease around age 60 or older.
Heredity: Having a close relative with Parkinson’s disease increases the chances that you’ll develop the disease.
Exposure to toxins: Ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides may put you at a slightly increased risk of Parkinson’s disease
You may also experience:
- Blood pressure changes. You may feel dizzy or lightheaded when you stand due to a sudden drop in blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension).
- Smell dysfunction. You experience problems with your sense of smell. You may have difficulty identifying certain odors or the difference between odors.
- Fatigue. Many people with Parkinson’s disease lose energy and experience fatigue, and the cause isn’t always known.
- Pain. Many people with Parkinson’s disease experience pain, either in specific areas of their bodies or throughout their bodies.