People with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have a higher risk of seizures than those without PD. Having other disorders associated with seizures along with PD further increases seizure risks.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disorder that affects nearly 1 million people in the United States. Though the main symptoms of PD are related to movement, the disorder can also have non-motor symptoms.
If you have PD, you could be at a higher risk of seizures.
This article explores the link between PD and seizures and symptoms to be aware of.
What is a seizure?
A seizure is a period of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. During a seizure, many nerve cells signal rapidly at the same time. This can cause involuntary movements, sensations, or behaviors.
How does Parkinson’s contribute to seizures?
Researchers have observed higher rates of epilepsy among people with PD. Although studies have identified some possible physiological explanations for the link, there’s still no definitive conclusion about why PD increases the risk of epilepsy.
Alpha-synuclein is a protein that builds up in the nerve cells of people with PD, creating Lewy bodies. This accumulation can cause harmful changes in nerve cells, including those impacting the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell.
The review’s authors suggest that these aspects of PD may lead to increased inflammation and nerve cell excitability that can contribute to a higher likelihood of seizures in people with PD. However, more research is needed.
Is there a connection between epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease?
Some research has also suggested a link between epilepsy and developing PD. For example, a
However, as with PD and seizures, the potential mechanism behind the link between PD and epilepsy remains unknown at this time.
Symptoms of epilepsy and PD are both treatable with daily medication. Surgery may also be beneficial.
If you are living with epilepsy and PD, be sure to seek support from your healthcare team. They can recommend a daily medication regimen and help you if you have any side effects or drug interactions.
- tremors while at rest
- stiffness that causes difficulty with movement
- handwriting that’s become small or cramped
- posture that’s more stooped or hunched
- reduced sense of smell
- reduced facial expression, called facial masking
- a softer or lower voice
- dizziness or fainting
- difficulty sleeping
PD is a neurodegenerative disease, meaning neurological function gradually declines over time. As PD progresses, both motor and non-motor symptoms worsen.
It’s estimated that PD leads to disability in most people
Other symptoms of late-stage PD include:
- frequent falls, which can happen due to trouble with posture and balance, as well as the effects of orthostatic hypotension
- urinary issues, such as incontinence
- difficulty swallowing
- chronic pain
- worsening sleep issues and excessive daytime sleepiness
- dementia and other cognitive problems
Neurological conditions can interfere with the typical functioning of the brain. Several other neurological conditions that can cause seizures include:
People with PD can be at an increased risk of seizures. The exact mechanism behind this isn’t known, but some aspects of the disease’s progression may contribute.
The early symptoms of PD can come on slowly and subtly. Symptoms gradually worsen over time as PD progresses.
Each person with PD is different, and the rate of progression and outlook can vary. Be sure to talk with your care team about your PD symptoms, treatment plan, and outlook.