Just for the elderly? Think again

Every hour, two people in the UK are told they have Parkinson's

This week is Parkinson’s Awareness Week and 11th April is World Parkinson’s Day.

Numbers vary but it is thought about one in 350-500 people are affected by Parkinson's disease, which means there are an estimated 127,000-145,000 people in the UK with the condition.

Most people with Parkinson's start to develop symptoms when they're over 50, although around one in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they're under 40. Watch young Emma's story and her experience of telling her boss she had Parkinson's.

Men are slightly more likely to get Parkinson's disease than women.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a serious and progressive neurological condition with more than 40 symptoms that affects people of all ages. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. Currently there is no cure but there are various treatments that can help.

People with Parkinson's don't have enough of the chemical dopamine because some of the nerve cells that make it have died.

Symptoms start to appear when the brain can’t make enough dopamine to control movement properly.

Not just shaking: what are the symptoms of Parkinson's disease?

The three main symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:

  • Involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor)
  • Slow movement
  • Stiff and inflexible muscles.

A person with Parkinson's disease can also experience a range of other physical and psychological symptoms, including:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Balance problems – this may increase the chance of a fall
  • Loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
  • Problems sleeping (insomnia)
  • Memory problems.

What causes Parkinson's?

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. As mentioned earlier, 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.

Why World Parkinson's Day and Parkinson's Awareness Week?

According to recent research from Parkinson’s UK, eight in ten people with Parkinson’s believe that awareness and understanding is low because people don’t consider it to be a serious condition - and only associate it with one symptom - a tremor.

Despite the fact that Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative condition after Alzheimer’s, many people still don’t understand what Parkinson’s is or how it affects people.

Hopefully the new "Parkinson’s Is" campaign which sees people across the UK share how the condition affects their lives, will raise awareness and help correct misconceptions about this misunderstood condition.

 

Find out more about Parkinson's

Watch the video