Parkinson’s disease is a disease that attacks the nervous system. There are special neurons in the brain that transmit dopamine, called dopaminergic neurons. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain. The brain needs dopamine to help control pain, emotions, and motor movement (such as walking and much more). When the neurons that transmit dopamine are attacked and destroyed, the brain looses dopamine. This loss of dopamine and neurons is what causes people with Parkinson’s disease to have tremors and other symptoms. The three most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, stiffness, and being unable to move. The tremors are involuntary: a person with Parkinson’s disease cannot control when the tremors start and how long they last.
Parkinson’s disease typically affects people between 50-70 years old, but has been seen in younger people. Men are more likely than women to have Parkinson’s disease. Also, whites are more affected by Parkinson’s disease than any other race. Researchers have found that people who smoke or drink coffee are less likely to have Parkinson’s disease.
No one is sure what causes Parkinson’s disease. Some theories include genetics or something toxic in the environment. There are many medications and other therapies that help treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Additional resources that provide an overview of Parkinson’s disease:
- Parkinson’s Disease – Overview (University of Maryland Medical Center)
- What is Parkinson’s Disease? (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation)
- What is Parkinson’s Disease? (National Parkinson’s Foundation)
- Parkinson’s Disease (Rush University Medical Center)
- What is PD? (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
- Parkinson’s Disease (DrugDigest)