Understanding Parkinson’s Disease
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive disease of the central nervous system, meaning the symptoms will continue and worsen over time. Approximately 1 million people in the United States currently have PD. It is estimated that approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year.
The disease is sometimes called idiopathic Parkinson's, because the exact cause is not known. However, many Parkinson's symptoms are believed to result from a lack of dopamine, one of the brain's chemical messengers. Without enough dopamine, the neurons (nerve cells in the brain) that control movement can't function properly. This makes it difficult for people with Parkinson's to move normally. Symptoms may vary from person to person.
NEUPRO has been approved by the FDA to treat Parkinson's disease and the approval was based on improvements in symptoms measured by a combination of motor function and activities of daily living. NEUPRO is not approved for the treatment of non-motor symptoms. The following information is provided for your education and to help you understand your disease.
Movement symptoms of Parkinson's disease
There are no specific laboratory tests for Parkinson's, so doctors make the diagnosis based on the presence of typical signs and symptoms.
The primary movement symptoms, or motor symptoms, of Parkinson's can include:
- Slowness of movements (bradykinesia)
- Muscle rigidity (stiffness)
- Resting tremor (shaking)
- Impaired balance and posture
- Loss of fine motor control (such as writing or buttoning a shirt)
- Decreased arm swing, shuffling gait, or decreased facial expression
Parkinson's symptoms typically start on one side of the body and spread to the other side later as the disease progresses.
Underlying non-motor Parkinson’s symptoms
Not all Parkinson's symptoms involve movement. There are many underlying non-motor symptoms that can be part of PD, including:
- Sleep disturbances (trouble falling asleep, night waking, vivid dreams or nightmares)
- Mood changes (depression, anxiety, fear)
- Digestive changes (constipation, diarrhea, trouble swallowing, drooling, nausea, upset stomach)
- Fatigue/daytime sleepiness
- Tingling ("pins and needles") in the hands and feet
- Sexual or urinary problems
- Low blood pressure when changing position (fainting or dizziness on standing)
- Excessive sweating
- Changes in your sense of smell or taste
- Problems with thinking (forgetfulness, lack of concentration)
It is estimated that 60% of people with Parkinson's have 2 or more of these underlying non-motor symptoms and that 25% may have 4 or more.
Make sure you talk to your doctor about all your PD symptoms. It's important to understand that these changes can be directly related to Parkinson's. And for some people, these underlying non-motor symptoms can have just as much impact as movement-related symptoms.
A word about depression
It's important to recognize the signs of depression so you can get the help you need. Depression is a real illness and may or may not be related to your Parkinson's. It won't go away without treatment, so talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your mood or your behavior.
Important: If you or someone you know is in crisis or emotional distress, please call the Lifeline Network at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). When you dial 1-800-273-TALK, you are calling the crisis center in the Lifeline Network closest to your location. To find out what center is closest to you, search the Crisis Center Locator at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/our-network. If you need immediate assistance, please dial 911 for help.