Nervous System Disorder
In The US: About 1 million people
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Symptoms are mild at first and may even be unnoticeable, but they become worse over time. Symptoms can include tremors, usually of the hands and fingers, slowed, difficult movement, muscle rigidity, a stooped posture, balance problems, problems with unconscious movements like blinking, and soft, quick, slurred, or monotone speech. Many of the symptoms are due to a loss of neurons that produce dopamine. When dopamine levels decrease, it causes abnormal brain activity that strongly relates to signs of Parkinson’s disease. The true cause of Parkinson’s disease, however, is still uncertain. Those over 60 are at a higher risk of developing the disease, especially if they are male. The risk also increases (though barely) if one has multiple relatives with the disease or if one is often exposed to herbicides and pesticides. Although Parkinson’s disease cannot be cured, there are medications that improve symptoms. In some cases, certain surgeries can also be performed to regulate specific regions of the brain.