Parkinson's disease is a progressive condition that affects movement and speech. There is still no known cause, despite years of research. Men have twice the risk of developing Parkinson's as women, and the majority of diagnosed individuals are over 60 years of age. In fact, many people ignore the symptoms of Parkinson's disease because they assume they are experiencing the normal aging process. One condition doctors believe to be a risk factor for Parkinson's is REM Sleep Disorder. People with this disorder appear to have twice the risk of developing Parkinson's at some point in their lives. Parkinson's is caused by low dopamine levels. In people with Parkinson's, the cells that produce dopamine start to die off at some point. The neurological disease affects millions of people and seriously impacts the quality of life. There are five recognized stages of Parkinson's, progressing from mild stage one, where patients have hardly any symptoms, to stage five, where they are no longer able to walk, talk, or carry out many other physical activities. At this stage, patients require full-time care.
There is no cure for Parkinson's, but treatments can delay the advanced stages and help control symptoms. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the more thoroughly the management of symptoms. Important symptoms to look for include lack of focus, joint stiffness when moving, and trouble forming words. The first symptom is generally small tremors in the hand.
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