Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month – Everything You Need to Know

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. But just what does that mean?

Here’s everything you need to know—including how to support and empower people living with Parkinson’s disease.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder, meaning that is a condition that affects the nervous system, with the condition progressing over time. Its most distinctive symptoms are tremors in the hands, arms, and face, although other symptoms, including mood changes and cognitive impairment, also commonly occur.

What are Symptoms of Parkinson’s?

Common symptoms of Parkinson's disease include anxiety, tremors, trouble sleeping, trouble swallowing, impaired balance, and dizziness,

Symptoms of PD include:

  • Motor system changes, including tremors, slow movement, and impaired balance
  • Sleep issues, including difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Mood changes, including apathy, depression, or anxiety
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Speech changes or difficulties speaking
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive changes, including confusion and amnesia
  • Changes in sense of smell
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty swallowing

How is PD Treated?

There is currently no cure for this neurological disorder, so treatment is primarily focused on improving overall quality of life.

Treatment options include:

What Causes Parkinson’s?

This condition occurs after the death of neurons in the basal ganglia, specifically the substantia nigra. This loss of nerve cells results in decreased production of the chemicals norepinephrine/noradrenaline and dopamine, which causes the neurological and motor symptoms seen with the disorder.

A medical illustration showing the midsection of the human brain.
Image curtsey of Madhero88 from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

No one knows why the neuron deaths associated with PD occur, although the following appear to be risk factors:

  • Age – Older adults (60+) are more likely to develop PD than younger individuals.
  • Sex – Men are more likely than women to develop the condition.
  • Environment – Exposure to toxic substances can increase PD risk.
  • Family history – Having a family member with PD is associated with a higher individual risk of PD.
  • Head trauma – Trauma to the head can increase Parkinson’s risk.

Risk factors for Parkinson's disease include age, sex, environment, family history, and head trauma.

What is Parkinson’s Awareness Month?

Parkinson’s Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness about the disease, including early detection methods, treatment options, and research opportunities.

When is It?

Parkinson’s Awareness Month takes place each April, and World Parkinson’s Day is April 11. This date is to commemorate the birthday of London physician and neurologist James Parkinson, who first described the condition in his 1817 work An Essay on the Shaking Palsy.

What Flower Represents Parkinson’s?

The current symbol of Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month is a red tulip in honor of J.W.S. Van der Wereld, a man living with PD who developed a red-and-white tulip variant in 1980.

How Can You Get Involved In Parkinson’s Awareness?

Take action today to make a difference and support a loved one with Parkinson’s.

Learn More About the Disease and PD Research

Learn more about this condition, from white papers to webinars to testimonials from people living with PD.

Find Support Groups and Other Resources for People Living with PD

People living with Parkinson’s can connect with others through the following organizations.

Support the Parkinson’s Community