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What Parkinson’s Isn’t: 6 Myths Debunked

What Parkinson’s Isn’t: 6 Myths Debunked

What is Parkinson’s disease? This is a question many of us have asked our neurologists, but the answers can be confusing. This is because we are still learning about this disorder and it’s impact on our lives. However, we do know what Parkinson’s isn’t.

Myth: Parkinson’s is curable

First and foremost, as many of you know, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. But before you get too discouraged, if you’re going to get it, now is a great time to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We have made such huge medical advances in the last decade alone, that now we have an arsenal of weapons to use against PD. Imagine being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the early 1900’s… I shudder.

Myth: Parkinson’s only affects movement

Since its discovery in 1817, Parkinson’s disease was believed to only affect posture, mobility, gait, and balance. But now we realize just how PD can impact a person in a multitude of ways, including non-motor symptoms. Top offenders include: constipation, bladder control, drooling, swallowing, memory, depression, anxiety, sleep issues, cognition, and impaired executive functioning. Our Neurologists have their work cut out for them.

Myth: Parkinson’s will kill you

Although you won’t die from having Parkinson’s disease, you can die from its complications. This can include aspiration of food, traumatic falls, infection, or sepsis. Just remember, you don’t die from Parkinson’s disease, you die with it.

Myth: Parkinson’s is an old person’s disease

Although PD is more common in the elderly population, there is a subset of Parkies who are under the age of 40. Like yours truly…

Myth: Parkinson’s is gender-specific

Even though there are more men diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease than women, PD doesn’t discriminate. Some of the major differences between the sexes of Parkies is hormone levels, coping skills, lifestyle choices and careers (men could possibly be more exposed to chemicals, such as pesticides).

Myth: Parkinson’s is a walk in the park

When I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I was naïve to believe that I would only be inconvenienced by a slower pace or struggle with a slight tremor. That was based on the only person I knew who had Parkinson’s… Michael J. Fox. He didn’t look that bad. Maybe I will get a mild case of PD… kind of like the watered-down version. Ignorance is bliss, eh?

Oh man, was I wrong. I learned quickly that Parkinson’s would negatively impact many facets of my life and that each day will present a challenge of some sort. Parkinson’s isn’t a walk in the park. It is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. But the one thing that you can count on is your Wolfpack (people who support you). They will take that stroll with you through the botanical garden of life.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Twinkle
    2 months ago

    Hi,
    I have Parkinsons and I was diagnosed in January so I am new to this and I am up to taking three medications at the moment. My husband has been having problems and I have noticed that many of them are listed above so when he sees our GP tomorrow I am taking a list from the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease which I have high lighted! If this proves right then it will be both of us with it! So far my symptoms are different to his! I am not sure how things are going to go for us both as it progresses!

  • Twinkle
    2 months ago

    I had seen my Neurologist for the first time last month so he is working on trying to control the tremors in my hand and I see him again this week to see how the added third medication is going which I started taking two of them from today! I can relate to the constipation, both hubby and I can relate to the bladder control, my hubby the drooling,both of us the other issues. My hubby is having trouble with his speech in which because of it gets him down as people that don’t know him can’t understand him but we know what he is trying to say! So I think mine maybe just a mild case (I hope) but it maybe just early days! Sleep what is that as I seem to be awake most of the time! Thank you for your post Allison!

  • Kitty
    4 months ago

    I can relate to this. It’s very difficult for me right now I have a very bad leg ulcer that won’t heal and dyskeniesa is not helping

  • martinuk
    4 months ago

    Yeah this last “myth” is what I experienced.thinking it wouldn’t affect my lie ver much.
    WRONG,!!!
    In the six years since diagnosis every part of my life and daily routine has changed drastically.
    Everything from eating ,sleeping ,mood, mobility, fatigue, social, speech ,writing ,concentration, walking and I could go on and on.
    I have a good team of medical people behind me on the British NHS. I also have a indefatigable carer in my wife.
    Martin Uk.

  • Beanie
    4 months ago

    Is there a way to find out if your meds are correct. Is seeing your neurologist only once a year the standard.

  • wojnarowicz
    4 months ago

    Hi there
    I see my neurologist twice a year (I live in Canada)
    Also if there are any issues with medication,real or perceived) I simply call him and he has been very good in calling back

  • Chris H. moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi, @beanie – Thanks for your question. We’d encourage you to seek this information from your neurologist (as you mentioned), as she/he is the most knowledgeable about your personal PD. If you suspect that there are issues with your meds, I don’t think you’d have to wait for a yearly appointment to do so. Take care. – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team

  • stella
    4 months ago

    Great article, and found most of this to be the truth.Thank you for shareing this article, and I like the idea of a wolfpack.

  • stella
    4 months ago

    Hi, yes some what, the anti depressant meds help some.

  • stella
    4 months ago

    This article says everything. I have had PD for 7 years. I thought it is easy, until I got all the other symptoms and some others. I rate the no sleep, as the one I hate the most.

  • Twinkle
    2 months ago

    Hi Stella,
    I can relate with you on the no sleep!

  • wojnarowicz
    4 months ago

    Hi
    I routinely wake up about 2 am and watch some TV intertwined with some half sleep.
    Some of the things I have tried and found partially useful are:
    1. Melissa tea prior to bedtime
    2. Melatonin before bedtime
    3.ValeriCalm by St.Francis herb farm
    4. One half of Ativan tablet
    5. One tablet of my Daily Sinemet without premipaxole
    6. Try to read something for a moment then try to go to bed again (that’s probably better than TV)

  • Jessica.Hall moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi @stella, we are glad to hear the article was well received. Your destination for sleeplessness is totally understandable. If you don’t mind me asking, have you found anything helpful in getting some rest? Be well, Jessica-Parkinsonsdisease.net Team

  • bandellis
    5 months ago

    I am a caregiver for my wife who has PD. Looking for all the information I get for a better understanding of what I can do to make life as good as it can be. Can’t tell if the side effects of her depression meds or has the PD advanced quicker than we thought.

    Thanks, Dave Ellis

  • Stevemy
    2 months ago

    Thank you Chris sorry it took me so long to get back to you I didn’t know I could find responses in here. I’m trying to learn how to use it today

  • Chris H. moderator
    2 months ago

    No problem, @stevemy! Please let us know if you need any help. – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team

  • Chris H. moderator
    5 months ago

    Glad you found our site, @bandellis. Getting informed about PD is definitely important. We have a lot of great articles geared towards caregivers here. Of course, if you’re looking for specific information, please let me know! Regarding your side effects statement, it can be difficult to distinguish medication side effects from PD symptoms, so it’s important to loop your wife’s doctor/neurologist in about what she’s experiencing. This can help her doctor assess whether any types of medication adjustments are needed. I hope this is helpful! Take care. – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team

  • JoeS
    5 months ago

    Hi HO HI Ho it’s off to life we go.
    Very well put! I was formally diagnosed with PD in Oct. 1997. I had had it for three years prior. I then had a massive hemoragic stroke March 1998. I wholly concur with everything stated above. I thought I was one of the fortunate. I didn’t think think I would be impacted by having full blown PD. I was terribly wrong The article is right on!

  • Stevemy
    2 months ago

    I was having some problems with my balance and was falling down quite a bit. After about a week my caregiver made me go to the hospital. It’s a good thing she did it was my blood pressure dropping. Plus I had congestive heart failure

  • Steveng
    1 month ago

    Same thing happened to me my blood pressure was dropping and I was passing out. I just thought it was part of Parkinson. But it ended up being congestive heart failure. Dehydration and a lack of potassium and other minerals in my blood. I was also givin a blood transfusion and 24/7 intravenous potassium. I’m glad my caretaker was persistent because I don’t like Hospital. It’s time she saved my life. I also had liver failure and several other things i cant remember them all. I was home for about 2 months doing great then the congestive heart failure came back. But not as bad I was only hospitalized for 2 days. Really scary part was not being able to breathe. Needless to say I pay more attention my caretaker in my health

  • ladybugg57
    7 months ago

    Wonderful article

  • Allison Smith author
    7 months ago

    @ladybugg57 thank you! Happy to hear your liked it!

  • Stevemy
    11 months ago

    Why are there no newer posts than 5 months ago some go back a year. Are there not people on here active everyday

  • Chris H. moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi, @Stevemy – Thanks for your question! This article was actually published over a year ago, so that’s why you’re seeing some older comments. To get the most up to date activity from the community, you can head over to the Community Page here: https://parkinsonsdisease.net/community/. Hope this helps! – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net

  • Stevemy
    2 months ago

    thank you Chris

  • Dan Glass moderator
    1 year ago

    I remember hearing that when we get it earlier, it doesn’t advance as quickly. Wishful thinking. Then again, maybe it was to keep us optimistic. Check out this story about Lou Gehrig during his days of ALS. http://www.espn.com/mlb/flash/gehrigletters

  • PaulaFournier
    2 years ago

    As a nurse I should have known that something was going on with my body but I was happily living in denial. My daughter encouraged me to see my primary physician, and a neurologist. Neurologist! That frightened me but,to make a long story short, my neurologist has helped me. Together we are a team keeping my symptoms at bay. Exercise has been one of the key components of my treatment. After three years I am in decent shape and I have hope for my future.

  • Allison Smith author
    2 years ago

    It can be a difficult journey to finding acceptance. Sounds like you have created an awesome Wolfpack and your drive to continue exercising will have a huge payoff! Thank you for your comment!

  • cosmocat27
    2 years ago

    I was in denial for the first year after i received my diagnosis. Thankfully, my symptoms increased and grew stronger. Now, I’m ready to do something about them. Articles like this are very helpful.

  • Chris H. moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing that, Laura D27! We’re so glad to hear that the article was helpful. Wishing the best for you on this journey! – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team Member

  • Michael Church
    2 years ago

    Great points Allison. There are enough misconceptions about what PD is and isn’t and you’ve shattered six pretty important ones.

  • Allison Smith author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Michael!

  • PDhelper
    2 years ago

    With all due respect to Allison, the last sentence of the second myth: ‘Neurologists have their…’, it is Parkies who have THEIR work cut out for them. Staying safe and independent is a long-term, very difficult compensation training process (Myth 6), and the medical profession has no solutions. Parkies can and must invest in themselves, as a group, to learn about the symptoms of PD and about effective daily compensation exercises.

  • Allison Smith author
    2 years ago

    Absolutely, Parkies need to be their own advocates, but it takes many people i.e. Neurologist, Neurosurgeons, Parkies, caring partners, family and friends to find the best game plan to live life to it’s fullest. You bring up a good point. Thank you for your comment.

  • Marcia
    2 years ago

    Another excellent article lady. Thank you for being fourth what so many do not understand about PD. Hugs great job

  • Allison Smith author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Marcia!

  • Gabro13
    2 years ago

    Great article Alison.

    I especially liked the last section. The sentence “Parkinson’s isn’t a walk in the park. It is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting.” I just might have this tattooed on my forehead…… Well maybe printing it on a t-shirt would be better, Lol.

  • Allison Smith author
    2 years ago

    Ha! Yeah, maybe even a bumper sticker will do! Thank you for your comment!

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