What is Parkinson’s disease?

Star of The Chase, Paul Sinha, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he has announced.

In a Twitter post on Friday, he said: “I have Parkinson’s disease. I will fight this with every breath I have.”

The disease affects approximately one in every 350 adults in the UK, here are the answers to some common questions about the disease.

– What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a condition where parts of the brain become damaged over a number of years, affecting motor skills and movement.

Around 145,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the condition, approximately one in 350 adults.

Most people who develop the condition are over 50 years old, however, one in 20 patients first start experiencing symptoms before they are 40.

– What causes Parkinsons?

Parkinson’s disease is caused by a lack of the chemical dopamine, missing from the body because some of the nerve cells in the brain that produce it have died.

Dopamine acts as a messenger between the brain and the nervous system, helping to control and co-ordinate body movements.

It is not yet clear what causes these dopamine-producing cells to die, but scientists believe it could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

– What are the symptoms? 

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are a tremor or a slowing down in movement.

However, some people also experience other symptoms such as problems with sleep, memory, or mental health issues, according to charity Parkinson’s UK.

They say symptoms of Parkinson’s usually only start to show themselves when 80% of the dopamine producing cells have degenerated.

– Can it be cured?

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Medication can be used to control the side effects of the condition by increasing the amount of dopamine in the body, and regular exercise can also slow their progression.

Some supportive treatments such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy are also available, and some patients may be recommended brain surgery to help the condition, according to the NHS.

– Who else has Parkinsons?

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly has Parkinson’s (Matt Crossick/PA)

BBC journalist, Rory Cellan-Jones recently announced he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s after a number of viewers commented on his shaking during a television broadcast.

After people expressed their concern Mr Cellan-Jones wrote on Twitter:  “[It] seems a good time to reveal that I’ve recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.”

Scottish comedian Sir Billy Connolly has also spoken about his experiences of the condition since being diagnosed in 2013.

In January, Sir Billy said: “I don’t have the balance I used to have, I don’t have the energy I used to have.

“I can’t hear the way I used to hear, I can’t see as good as I used to. I can’t remember the way I used to remember.”