Parkinson's disease: Myths and facts

Parkinson's disease: Myths and facts

Myth: Parkinson’s affects only movement

Fact: Parkinson’s disease affects multiple areas of the brain. Non-motor symptoms can include impaired sense of smell, sleep disorders, cognitive difficulties, constipation/ bladder problems, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression.

Myth: Parkinson’s affects only older people

Fact: While a majority of people may develop the condition in their fifties or early sixties, about 10% of people are diagnosed before age 40.

Myth: All individuals with Parkinson’s have tremors

Fact: Although tremor is the most common symptom, some people with the disorder never experience any tremors.

Myth: Parkinson’s disease can become severe unexpectedly

Fact: Though symptoms may fluctuate throughout the day, the disease progresses very slowly. If symptoms worsen over days or weeks, then other factors like infection, side-effects of medication, stress or another medical condition may be the cause.

Myth: Only medication can treat Parkinson's disease

Fact: Although some symptoms can be treated with medication, lifestyle changes that include regular exercise, muscle strengthening therapies and a healthy diet, can reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the quality of life. It has been observed that patients who exercised for one hour every week showed significant signs of improvement in daily activities.

Myth: Parkinson’s is genetic

Fact: The cause of Parkinson's is not known and only 5-10 % is genetic. It is also observed that environmental factors may play a major role.

Myth: Parkinson’s disease is fatal

Fact: Parkinson’s disease itself will not cause death. Other problems like difficulty in swallowing may cause respiratory infections like pneumonia, but many people never experience this and can live for decades after diagnosis.

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