By Pharmacist Precious Udoaka


Parkinson's disease is a chronic and progressive neurological disorder that primarily affects movement but can also involve cognitive and psychiatric symptoms. Named after James Parkinson, the English physician who first described the condition in 1817, Parkinson's disease is characterized by the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in a region of the brain called the substantia nigra.


Motor Symptoms:

  • Tremor: Typically starts in one hand and can involve a rhythmic shaking at rest.
  • Bradykinesia: Slowness of movement, which can include difficulty initiating movements and a decrease in automatic movements like blinking or smiling.
  • Rigidity: Stiffness and resistance to movement in the limbs or trunk.
  • Postural instability: Impaired balance and coordination, leading to difficulties with walking and falls.

Non-Motor Symptoms:

  • Cognitive changes: Problems with memory, concentration, and executive function can occur, especially in later stages.
  • Mood disorders: Depression and anxiety are common, and some individuals may experience hallucinations or psychosis.
  • Sleep disturbances: Including insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and REM sleep behavior disorder.
  • Autonomic dysfunction: Symptoms such as constipation, urinary problems, and low blood pressure may occur.
  • Sensory changes: Loss of sense of smell (anosmia) and pain may be present.


The exact cause of Parkinson's disease is not fully understood, but it's believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Mutations in certain genes have been linked to familial forms of the disease, while exposure to toxins like pesticides and head injuries may increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.



Diagnosing Parkinson's disease is primarily based on medical history, clinical symptoms, and neurological examination. There are no specific diagnostic tests, but brain imaging may be used to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.


While there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, treatment aims to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. This typically involves a combination of medications, including dopamine agonists, levodopa, and MAO-B inhibitors, which help to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can also be beneficial in managing symptoms and maintaining function.

Research and Future Directions:

Research into Parkinson's disease is ongoing, with efforts focused on understanding its underlying mechanisms, developing better treatments, and ultimately finding a cure. This includes exploring the role of genetics, studying potential neuroprotective therapies, and investigating deep brain stimulation and other surgical interventions for advanced cases. Additionally, there is growing interest in lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet, and social engagement as potential modifiers of disease progression.

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