Parkinson's Disease

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Parkinson's disease facts

  • Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.
  • Primary symptoms include
    • tremor,
    • stiffness,
    • slowness,
    • impaired balance,
    • and later on a shuffling gait.
  • Some secondary symptoms include
  • Most individuals with Parkinson's disease are diagnosed when they are 60 years old or older, but early-onset Parkinson's disease also occurs.
  • With proper treatment, most individuals with Parkinson's disease can lead long, productive lives for many years after diagnosis.

Parkinson's Disease Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms, Stages and Treatment

What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and the most common movement disorder. It is characterized by progressive loss of muscle control, which leads to trembling of the limbs and head while at rest, stiffness, slowness, and impaired balance. As symptoms worsen, it may become difficult to walk, talk, and complete simple tasks.

The progression of Parkinson's disease and the degree of impairment vary from individual to individual. Many people with Parkinson's disease live long productive lives, whereas others become disabled much more quickly. Premature death is usually due to complications such as falling-related injuries or pneumonia.

Most individuals who develop Parkinson's disease are 60 years of age or older. Since overall life expectancy is rising, the number of individuals with Parkinson's disease will increase in the future. Adult-onset Parkinson's disease is most common, but early-onset Parkinson's disease (onset between 21-40 years), and juvenile-onset Parkinson's disease (onset before age 21) also exist.

Descriptions of Parkinson's disease date back as far as 5000 BC. Around that time, an ancient Indian civilization called the disorder Kampavata and treated it with the seeds of a plant containing therapeutic levels of what is today known as levodopa. Parkinson's disease was named after the British doctor James Parkinson, who in 1817 first described the disorder in great detail as "shaking palsy."

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2015

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Parkinson's Disease - Symptoms Question: At what age did Parkinson's symptoms first appear, and what are they?
Parkinson's Disease - Treatments Question: What do you do to treat and manage your Parkinson's disease?
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Parkinson's Disease - Prognosis Question: Parkinson's is not a fatal disease. What is the prognosis for you, a friend, or relative?
Caring for people with Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's Disease Diet and Nutrition

Maintaining Your Weight With Parkinson's Disease

Malnutrition and weight maintenance is often an issue for people with Parkinson's disease. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy weight.

  • Weigh yourself once or twice a week, unless your doctor recommends weighing yourself often. If you are taking diuretics or steroids, such as prednisone, you should weigh yourself daily.
  • If you have an unexplained weight gain or loss (2 pounds in one day or 5 pounds in one week), contact your doctor. He or she may want to modify your food or fluid intake to help manage your condition.
  • Avoid low-fat or low-calorie products. (unless other dietary guidelines have been recommended). Use whole milk, whole milk cheese, and yogurt.