If you are here, you probably have just been diagnosed, or you know someone who has the condition and are wondering what it is all about.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition.
People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things. The loss of nerve cells in the brain causes the symptoms of Parkinson’s to appear.
To explain that in a simple way; your body is a bit like a road transport system with lots of rivers. Messages from your muscles and other bits of your body travel along the roads to and from your brain, but they need to cross the rivers. When you have Parkinsons it’s a bit like the ferry boats (the dopamine) across the rivers have broken down, so the message does not reach the brain. The drugs that are given are like the ferry boats, but they only last a few hours, and need to be given on time regularly. It is really important that the drugs are taken on time. You may be confused by the person with Parkinsons, as sometimes they may seem really able to do things, and then suddenly, they seem very slow or unable to do things-this is when the drugs are running out.
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement. As well as affecting movement, people with Parkinson’s can find that other issues, such as tiredness, pain, depression and constipation, can have an impact on their day-to-day lives. The symptoms someone has, and how quickly the condition develops will differ from one person to the next. Sometimes the speech is quiet or slow. If you meet someone with Parkinson’s give them time and be patient.
These symptoms can be controlled using a combination of drugs, therapies and occasionally surgery.
As Parkinson’s progresses, an increased amount of care and support may be required, although many people maintain a good quality of life with limited care or treatment.
Parkinson’s doesn’t directly cause people to die, but symptoms do get worse over time.
A leaflet with more information is available from Parkinson’s UK: Parkinson’s UK Information Leaflet
One person in every 500 has Parkinson’s. That’s about 127,000 people in the UK. Most people who get Parkinson’s are aged 50 or over but younger people can get it too.