Broadcaster Jeremy Paxman has revealed he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but what are the causes, symptoms and how is it treated?
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects parts of the brain.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS says there are three main symptoms, including shaking or shaking, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness.
Other symptoms include balance problems, loss of smell, nerve pain, excessive sweating and dizziness.
Some people may also experience sleep deprivation, excessive saliva production, and difficulty swallowing, causing malnutrition and dehydration.
What are the first signs?
Symptoms begin gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one part of the body.
In the early stages, people may show little or no expression and may not wave their arms when they walk.
Speech may also become soft or slurred, with the condition worsening over time.
What are the causes?
Scientists believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors causes Parkinson’s disease.
It occurs after a person experiences a loss of nerve cells in part of their brain.
However, it is not known why the loss of nerve cells associated with the condition occurs.
Scientists say that genetics cause about 10 to 15% of Parkinson’s disease and can therefore run in families.
Other factors attributed to causing the condition include environmental issues such as pollution, although such links are inconclusive, the NHS says.
How is it diagnosed?
No test can tell if a person has the disease, but doctors can make a diagnosis based on symptoms, medical history, and physical exam.
A specialist will ask the person to write or draw, walk or speak to check for general signs of the condition.
They can even check for difficulty making facial expressions and slowness of limb movements.
How many people are affected?
There are about 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease in the UK.
Can it be treated?
While there is no cure, a number of treatments are available to help reduce symptoms.
The three main remedies are medication, exercise, and therapy, which can help people in different ways.
What medications are available and what are the side effects?
Medication can be helpful in improving the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as trembling and movement problems.
There are three main types that are commonly used, levodopa, dopamine agonist or a MAO-B inhibitor.
Each can affect people in different ways.
The drugs have some side effects, including impulsive and compulsive behaviors, hallucinations, trouble sleeping, and blood pressure changes.
What therapy is available?
There are a variety of therapies available to people with Parkinson’s through the NHS.
Among them is physiotherapy to ease muscle stiffness, occupational therapy to help with daily tasks, and speech and language coaching.
Does this change the way you live?
Most people’s life expectancy won’t change much, although more advanced symptoms can lead to increased disability and poor health.
It can also cause some cognitive problems and changes in mood and mental health.
Those with Parkinson’s are encouraged to exercise more often, with scientists saying 2.5 hours of exercise a week is enough to slow the progression of symptoms.
Parkinson’s affects one in 500 people and causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, reduced quality of life and can lead to severe disability.
It is a progressive neurological disorder that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.
Patients are known to have a reduced supply of dopamine because the nerve cells that provide it have died.
There is currently no cure and no way to stop the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific studies are underway to change that.
The disease claimed the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali in 2016.