The Progression of Parkinson's Disease

How does Parkinson’s progress?

Parkinson’s develops very slowly and gradually. Before the typical signs of Parkinson’s appear, such as the shaking, muscle stiffness, slowness of movement and difficulty walking, some people may experience other symptoms such as loss of smell, anxiety, mood problems, pain, excessive sweating or changes in blood pressure. Because of this, it is very difficult for people to tell when exactly Parkinson’s started. In later stages of the disease, some patients may develop dementia, which means they have difficulty concentrating and they become very forgetful.

The reason why the brain cells that make dopamine fail and eventually die is not fully understood. What happens to the cells is that they start accumulating faulty proteins inside them. As these faulty proteins build up inside the cells they stick together and form tiny clumps called Lewy bodies. In order to stop more protein clumps from forming inside them, the brain cells affected by Lewy bodies stop making the proteins they actually need in order to function.