Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disease, which means that specific cells of the brain become gradually destroyed. In the case of Parkinson’s, the destroyed cells are the ones that produce dopamine, a chemical that plays an important role in movement control. The disease therefore causes a gradual loss in the ability to control certain types of movement.
Symptoms appear gradually and worsen over time. Parkinson’s progresses at a different rate for each person. The disease isn't fatal, but at an advanced stage, major complications, such as pneumonia, can cause death.
The exact cause of this disease is still unknown.
Parkinson's disease is characterized by 3 major symptoms. At least 2 of these symptoms must be present for Parkinson's to be diagnosed.
Other symptoms are also possible:
At the start of the disease, Parkinson's signs are sometimes confused with the effects of normal aging.
Parkinson's disease is a chronic disease that progresses over time. For the moment, no drug or procedure can cure it. However, treatments are available to relieve symptoms, such as stiffness, slow movements or tremors. Treatment will help you continue your usual activities and maintain a good quality of life for many years.
Different classes of medications can be prescribed depending on the stage of the disease, your symptoms, your age or other factors. Since Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, treatment must be adapted as symptoms change. The medications your doctor prescribes may also change over time.
If you take medication, you need to take your prescribed dose and never change a dose without consulting your doctor. If you stop your medication, your symptoms will come back. If you experience side effects, your pharmacist or doctor can give you advice and adjust your therapy.
Physiotherapy is also an important part of Parkinson's treatment. An adapted exercise and therapy program will help you improve your balance, muscle endurance, and mobility.
Surgical procedures are also possible if the disease doesn’t respond well to medication and if the symptoms are severe and very disabling.
Other measures will also help you maintain a good quality of life:
You must always consult your pharmacist before taking over-the-counter drugs or natural health products, as some can aggravate Parkinson's symptoms or interact with other medications. Your pharmacist can also help if you have questions about Parkinson's disease.