Understanding Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological condition affecting about 100,000 people in Australia. The average age of onset is 65 and six out of seven people living with Parkinson’s are over the age of 40.

The cause of Parkinson’s is not understood. It is thought that a range of factors may be responsible for the condition. Hereditary Parkinson’s is very rare, although a number of gene mutations are thought to be implicated, along with environmental factors.

Parkinson’s disease usually progresses slowly, and symptoms can be controlled or reduced through a variety of medications and treatments.

Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Symptom’s of Parkinson’s can be broadly categorized under non-motor symptoms and motor symptoms.

Motor symptoms

  • Tremor, which usually occurs at rest. It may begin in one hand, foot or leg and gradually extend to both sides of the body.
  • Bradykenesia (slowness of movement)
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Postural instability

Non-motor symptoms

  • Loss of the sense of smell
  • Visual disturbances
  • Mood disorders
  • Bowel and bladder issues
  • Fatigue, pain and cramping
  • Speech problems
  • Sexual issues
  • Postural hypotension (drop in blood pressure on rising from a lying or sitting position)
  • Excessive salivation
  • Sweating and increased sensitivity to temperatures
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Cognitive changes
  • Sleep disorders including REM sleep disorder (where a person acts out their dreams), intense or vivid dreams and excessive daytime sleepiness

It is important to be aware that not every person living with Parkinson’s will experience all of the above symptoms. Often the development of symptoms occurs over a long period of time.

MSWA supports people living with Parkinson’s.

Visit our Support and Services section to see how we can assist you.

Visit Support and Services

For more information about Parkinson’s Disease visit the Parkinson's Australia website.

Visit Parkinson’s Australia