Dr. Barbara Huggins

Parkinson’s Disease

November 29, 2007


Parkinson's Disease -  November 29, 2007Parkinson's Disease was first described in 1817 by Dr. James Parkinson who published a paper on what he called "the shaking palsy". But oftentimes, palsy is not a part of the disease, at least not in the beginning. Recognizing the early symptoms is crucial to the long term management of this disease. UT Health Center's Dr. Mom explains.

Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a progressive brain disorder that results from a loss of a group of brain cells that produce dopamine. Without dopamine, or lower levels of dopamine, the brain's nerve cells do not work properly, causing an inability to control movement. The most noticeable signs of Parkinson's Disease are shaking, difficulty walking, slowness in movement, problems with balance, and stiffness. However, there are less noticeable signs of PD that also occur such as the loss of the sense of smell and taste; sleep difficulties, depression, difficulty swallowing or chewing, fatigue and loss of energy.

PD is difficult to diagnose due to the fact that there are no blood tests or x-rays that can be performed to determine if one has Parkinson's. Other disorders can cause symptoms that are similar to PD. However, some x-rays can be taken to help your physician determine if there are other causes for the symptoms.

Parkinson's usually starts around the age of 60 but can start much earlier. Parkinson's is also more common in men than women and has not been found to be hereditary.

Discuss with your physician if you are experiencing difficulty or changes in these areas:

There is no cure for PD but the progression of the symptoms may take 20 years or more. Early diagnosis and treatment can help save remaining brain cells that have not been affected by PD.

For more information:

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.