Your top three Parkinson’s questions answered by the APDA

Your top three Parkinson’s questions answered by the APDA

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) recently shared the top three questions they are asked about Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  They include:  what causes PD; is there a way to prevent cognitive decline in PD; and does exercise help people with PD?  The APDA recently answered those three questions.  <read more>

Top Three Questions

Here are three of the most common questions we’ve received lately, along with other resources that you might find useful.

Q: I was exposed to an environmental toxin. Is that what caused my PD?

A:  For any environmental risk that has been identified as linked to PD, you must keep in mind that the studies were performed in large populations. Therefore, a study can conclude that in the population studied, a particular toxin increases the risk of PD by a certain amount — but the increased risk is typically fairly small. For any individual person however, it is usually not possible to determine exactly why he/she developed PD – it is almost always a combination of genetic (even if there is no family history, you can carry a new mutation or a recessive gene that hasn’t been expressed in some time) and many environmental risks (some which we know about and some which we don’t).

So, it is more complicated than saying you have PD now because you were exposed to a certain toxin, but exposure to the toxin may have increased your risk of PD over the general population. Our recent conversation with an expert on this topic sheds some additional light on toxins and other environmental concerns.

Q: Is there a way to prevent cognitive decline in PD?

A:  As of yet, there is no medication or nutritional supplement proven to slow or halt the development of cognitive problems in PD. Researchers are looking for such a treatment, but we don’t yet have the secret sauce that we know for sure works. However, keeping physically fit, mentally active, and socially engaged all have their role in maintaining cognition. Novelty is also good for the brain – so learn something new! 

Mediterranean diets, including the DASH and MIND diets, may help the brain function at its best. Recently a study was published that showed that adherence to these diets was associated with later onset of PD. You may also find our Cognitive Changes in PD resource to be helpful.

Q:  Does exercise help people with PD?

A:  The short answer is YES! It’s a big topic, so we’ve summarized how exercise helps people with PD and the best types of exercise to do. We also have great exercise resources like our free Be Active & Beyondexercise booklet (also available in Spanish), and a wide variety of virtual exercise programs you can join from home.

Have a Question for the APDA?

Whether you’re looking for some simple tips and tricks that might make daily life a little easier, or you’re debating a big decision like deep brain stimulation, there is no doubt that many questions arise all throughout your Parkinson’s disease (PD) journey. APDA has answers for you.

Asking questions is an important part of life with any disease. The more you know, the better equipped you can be to handle the ups and downs of PD, and being educated and prepared can help you live life to the fullest despite the challenges PD can throw your way. And when you ask us questions through our Ask a Doctor web feature, or suggest a topic for our A Closer Look blog, it helps us understand what you need and want to know more about.
Have a question, but want to ask your question to someone who’s “been there”? Check out the Smart Patients online support community for patients and caregivers where people impacted by PD can share, interact, and learn from each other in a safe, supportive environment.

And if you have questions about COVID-19 and PD, please consult our recently-updated Q&A which includes the most common questions we get asked about the virus.