Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the nervous system. Studies show that some cases are caused by genetic mutations, but hereditary causes are rare.
Hereditary diseases are those that are passed from parents to their children through their genes. A genetic disease can be hereditary, but not always. Some genetic diseases are caused by random mutations that aren’t inherited from the parents.
Parkinson’s disease causes tremors, shaking, slow movement, balance problems, and stiffness. It usually affects people who are older. Only about 10 to 15 percent of those who have Parkinson’s disease have a family history of it. For the rest, the cause of Parkinson’s is usually unknown.
Research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may cause Parkinson’s disease. In this article, we’ll learn more about these causes, as well as possible prevention.
Many genes are involved in Parkinson’s disease. Researchers continue to investigate new mutations and other genes involved in the disease.
The genes associated with Parkinson’s disease include:
- Glucocerebrosidase (GBA)
- LRRK2 (leucine-rich repeat kinase 2)
- PARK2 (parkin)
It’s rare for Parkinson’s disease to be passed down from parent to child. Most cases of Parkinson’s aren’t hereditary. But people who get early-onset Parkinson’s disease are more likely to have inherited it.
Having a family history of Parkinson’s disease may increase the risk that you’ll get it. This means that having a parent or sibling with Parkinson’s slightly increases the risk.
In most cases, the cause of Parkinson’s disease remains unknown. But researchers have identified multiple risk factors that can increase your chances of getting this disease.
Risk factors for Parkinson’s disease include:
- mutations in specific genes associated with Parkinson’s
- having a family history of Parkinson’s or a first-degree family member with Parkinson’s
- being older, especially above the age of 60
- exposure to herbicides and pesticides
- being assigned male at birth
- history of brain injury
Since most causes of Parkinson’s disease are unknown, there are no specific prevention techniques. Caffeine and green tea may lower your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. In addition, staying active and exercising may also lower your risk.
Limiting dairy and red meat may also help. What’s more, following the Mediterranean diet may also lower your risk of getting Parkinson’s disease. This diet is focused on:
- whole grains
- olive oil
If you have a family member with Parkinson’s disease, you may want to consider genetic testing. Having a gene mutation doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the disease. Getting a genetic test may help researchers understand this condition and develop new treatment options.
Talk with a doctor about genetic testing to determine if it’s right for you.
There isn’t one specific test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Doctors will usually evaluate your symptoms and perform several tests to determine if you have the condition. If you notice the following early warning signs, then you should see a doctor.
The early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease include:
- tremors or shaking
- smaller handwriting
- problems sleeping
- loss of smell
- problems walking or moving
- changes to your voice, especially developing a low or soft voice
- changes to your facial expressions, especially looking serious or mad
- problems standing straight
- slouching or leaning
If a family member has just been diagnosed, you don’t have to see a doctor. You may or may not develop the disease, and a genetic test isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a disorder that affects the nervous system and is usually seen in older adults. It’s rare for people to inherit Parkinson’s disease — hereditary cases aren’t common.
Genetic mutations can occur randomly. Researchers think that a combination of genes and environmental factors may cause Parkinson’s disease.