Parkinson’s is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world.  The progressive condition causes problems with the brain and gets worse over time. People who have Parkinson’s don’t have enough dopamine in their brains due to a lack of nerve cells which makes them stop working. Dopamine is one of the main chemicals in the body that affects physical movement, so a reduction in dopamine leads to muscle and movement issues suffered by those with Parkinson’s.

Unfortunately, there is no definite answer for what exactly causes this loss of brain cells, though research suggests genetics and environmental factors.

The term ‘Parkinsonism’ covers several conditions that relate to several conditions, including Parkinson’s and people who experience similar symptoms. Some people with the condition and health professionals may use the term Parkinson’s Disease or PD for short.

Organisations such as Parkinson’s UK state that they don’t use the word ‘disease’ as it sounds negative and unlike a common cold or measles, you can’t catch Parkinson’s/ from someone.

The Different Types of Parkinson’s

There are three types of Parkinson’s disease: idiopathic, vascular, and drug induced.

Idiopathic Parkinson’s

The word “idiopathic” means the cause is unknown. The majority of those affected by Parkinson’s are diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinson’s. Typically, symptoms of Idiopathic Parkinson’s are tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement.

Drug-Induced Parkinsonism

Also called drug-induced Parkinsonism, this type of Parkinson’s is known as secondary parkinsonism. It is caused by taking medications for other conditions which cause parkinsonism. Medications that can cause parkinsonism to develop include:

  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Anti-psychotics
  • Some antidepressants
  • Reserpine (treatment for high blood pressure)
  • Tetrabenazine (treatment for hyperkinetic movement disorders)
  • Some calcium channel blockers

Vascular Parkinsonism

Also known as arteriosclerotic parkinsonism, this type of Parkinson’s is often thought to be caused by strokes, as symptoms begin to appear following either one large stroke or a series of smaller strokes. Common symptoms of this type of Parkinson’s are problems with memory, sleep, mood and movement.

Parkinson’s Symptoms

With over 40 symptoms of Parkinson’s, everyone’s experience with it is different. The symptoms include both physical and mental problems, ranging from trouble with sleep to body tremors and stiffness.

The common symptoms of Parkinson’s are:

  • Involuntary shaking of body areas (body tremors)
  • Slow movement
  • Stiffness and inflexibility in the muscles
  • Mental health problems including depression and anxiety

People with Parkinson’s will have different experiences with how their condition changes or progresses. Someone with Parkinson’s may notice changes from day to day or even hour to hour.

Parkinson’s symptoms are often referred to as motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms:

Motor symptoms: These are symptoms that affect a person’s movement and balance. For example, muscle stiffness or slow movement.

Non-motor symptoms: These are symptoms that affect a person which others can’t see. For example, sleep problems, depression or pain.

Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s

Knowing if you or a loved one has Parkinson’s can be difficult to tell. However, there are some signs that you could have the condition. A single symptom of the below doesn’t mean you or a loved one should worry but it’s worth speaking with your GP for further advice.

  • Shaking or tremor in your finger, thumb hand or chin
  • Smaller handwriting, changes in how you write
  • Sleeping problems with sudden movements
  • Loss of smell
  • The sensation that your feet are ‘sticking to the floor’ trouble walking or moving
  • Bowel troubles and constipation
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Stopping over or hunching
  • Facial masking, being told you have a serious, depressed or mad look even when your mood is fine
  • Changes in your voice, sounding breathy, hoarse or soft

How does Parkinson’s Progress?

How the condition progresses is different for each person who has it. In the early stages of Parkinson’s, treatment may not be needed as the symptoms can be mild. For many, it can take years before the condition has a real impact on their daily life.

There is no cure currently for Parkinson’s, however, treatments are available to help maintain quality of life for as long as possible and reduce the main symptoms.

Like other cognitive conditions like Dementia, Parkinson’s condition progresses, and it can become increasingly difficult to carry out day-to-day activities without help.

For most people with Parkinson’s, they respond well to treatment, and only experience mild to moderate disability. However, for others, they may not respond as well and can become more severely disabled over time.

Someone with Parkinson’s can experience great strain on the body which could make them more vulnerable to serious and life-threatening infections in some cases. However, thanks to advanced treatments, many people living with Parkinson’s can have a normal, or near-normal life expectancy.

Living with Parkinson’s?

When symptoms first appear, you may not need treatment as symptoms are usually mild. It is necessary to regularly check in with your doctor to keep track of your condition. Some treatments include:

  • Physiotherapy: Specific types of exercise can help with stiffness and muscle movement. Exercise in general helps with overall health and quality of life.
  • Occupational Therapy: Seeking help from an occupational therapist can help you determine better, easier, and safer methods for performing activities.
  • Medication
  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • In some cases, brain surgery is an option

For information about Parkinson’s disease and for helpful resources in the UK, please refer to the following sites:

  • is a comprehensive site that supplies information about many diseases and conditions. The page linked here provides detailed information about Parkinson’s disease, its causes, treatments, and helpful services near you.
  • Parkinson’s Foundation is a site dedicated solely to helping people understand all aspects of Parkinson’s and providing suggestions for how to live a healthy and happy life with PD.
  • OParkinson’s UK is a very detailed website, providing information about all aspects of Parkinson’s and offering access to resources near you in the UK.