18 Apr 5 Myths and Facts about Parkinson’s Disease
There are many misconceptions and myths about Parkinson’s disease, the common neurological disorder that can have a devastating, life-changing impact.
1 million people in the U.S. are living with PD
1.2 million people in the U.S. are estimated to be affected by the year 2030
90,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with PD each year
10 million people worldwide are living with PD
Men are 1.5 times more likely to have PD than women
Because Parkinson’s disease is widely-known but hardly-understood, there are many myths about it—and misconceptions can be dangerous. They may prevent people from getting the right diagnosis, seeking treatment in the early stages, and managing PD’s symptoms effectively.
Here is our list of 5 myths and facts about Parkinson’s disease.
Myth: Parkinson’s only affects older people
Fact: Parkinson’s affects all ages
Although it is more common in older adults, Parkinson’s disease can affect people of any age.
About 10% of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before the age of 50, and some even develop symptoms in their teens or twenties. This is called young-onset or early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
The causes and progression of Parkinson’s disease may differ depending on the age of onset.
Myth: Parkinson’s disease is inherited
Fact: Parkinson’s disease is not purely genetic
Most cases of Parkinson’s are sporadic, meaning they occur randomly without a clear family history. Only about 15% of people with Parkinson’s have a close relative with the condition. Even in these cases, there may be other factors that influence the risk of developing Parkinson’s, such as environmental exposures or lifestyle habits.
Myth: Everyone with PD has tremors
Fact: Many don’t
It’s easy to connect tremor to Parkinson’s disease because it’s a prominent and recognizable symptom. But some people with Parkinson’s never have a tremor, and even those who do may not have it at the start of the condition.
Tremor is only one of the possible motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which also include
- bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
- postural instability (balance problems)
- and gait abnormalities
Different people may experience different combinations and severities of these symptoms.
Myth: Parkinson’s disease only affects movement
Fact: PD is more than that
- sexual function
These non-motor symptoms may be present before the onset of motor symptoms or develop later in the course of the disease. They can have a significant impact on the quality of life and well-being of people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.
Myth: There is no treatment for Parkinson’s disease
Fact: There’s no cure, but treatment exists
The most common treatment is medication that replaces or mimics dopamine, the chemical that is deficient in the brains of people with Parkinson’s.
Other treatments include
- surgery (such as deep brain stimulation)
- physical therapy
- occupational therapy
- speech therapy
- complementary therapies (such as acupuncture or massage)
The best treatment plan for each person depends on their individual symptoms, preferences and goals.