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What do you know about Parkinson's Disease?

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

-- Loss of automatic movements. In Parkinson's disease, you may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.

-- Speech changes. You may have speech problems as a result of Parkinson's disease. You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than with the usual inflections.

-- Writing changes. It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

See your doctor if you have any of the symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease -- not only to diagnose your condition but also to rule out other causes for your symptoms.

CAUSES

 

In Parkinson's disease, certain nerve cells (neurons) in the brain gradually break down or die. Many of the symptoms are due to a loss of neurons that produce a chemical messenger in your brain called dopamine. When dopamine levels decrease, it causes abnormal brain activity, leading to signs of Parkinson's disease.The cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown, but several factors appear to play a role, including:

-- Your genes. Researchers have identified specific genetic mutations that can cause Parkinson's disease, but these are uncommon except in rare cases with many family members affected by Parkinson's disease.However, certain gene variations appear to increase the risk of Parkinson's disease but with a relatively small risk of Parkinson's disease for each of these genetic markers.

-- Environmental triggers. Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of later Parkinson's disease, but the risk is relatively small.

Researchers have also noted that many changes occur in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease, although it's not clear why these changes occur. These changes include:

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