Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain disorder caused by the gradual death of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra region of the brain, which helps control movement.
When nerve cells die in this part of the brain, the major brain centers that control movement cannot work either. This affects muscle control, movement, balance, and coordination.
Damage to the substantia nigra causes a rest tremor, rigidity, and uncontrollable movements, all of which are symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are typically subtle, develop gradually, and worsen over time. For example, a person with early Parkinson’s disease may feel slight tremors or notice that their handwriting has become much smaller and cramped. They may begin to walk more slowly, or their speech may become soft or slurred.
As the symptoms progress, an affected person may have memory difficulties and problems talking and walking. Depression, sleep difficulties, and behavioral changes may also be present.
There are three main types of Parkinson’s disease:
Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease
A disease with no known cause, idiopathic PD is the most common type of Parkinson’s that affects aging people (the average age of onset is around 60).
The main symptoms of idiopathic PD include movement issues such as tremors, stiffness (rigidity), poor balance, and slowness of movement.
Also, idiopathic PD involves non-motor signs such as mood disorders, fatigue, sleep problems, dementia, loss of smell, and psychosis with hallucinations.
Early-Onset Parkinson’s Disease
Early-onset Parkinson’s disease has symptoms similar to idiopathic Parkinson’s, but it can affect people aged 21 to 50. In addition, symptoms tend to progress more slowly.
Familial Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is inherited in 10 to 15% of cases. Gene mutations that are passed down from parents to children are thought to be the cause of familial Parkinson’s disease. This makes the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease higher.
According to research, several gene mutations have been linked to Parkinson’s disease. However, the likelihood of developing the disease is low even if a person has a gene mutation linked to Parkinson’s.