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Parkinsonism !p@r-kun-su-+ni-zum

(Secondary Parkinsonism; Atypical Parkinsonism)

by Hector A. Gonzalez-Usigli, MD, Alberto Espay, MD

Parkinsonism refers to symptoms of Parkinson disease (such as slow movements and tremors) that are caused by another condition.

Various conditions can cause parkinsonism:

  • Viral encephalitis, including West Nile virus encephalitis and a rare brain inflammation that follows a flu-like infection

  • Degenerative disorders, such as dementia, multiple system atrophy, corticobasal ganglionic degeneration, and progressive supranuclear palsy

  • Structural brain disorders, such as brain tumors and strokes

  • Head injury, particularly the repeated injury that occurs in boxing (making a person punch-drunk)

  • Drugs, especially metaclopromide (used to relieve nausea), antipsychotic drugs, and the antihypertensive drugs methyldopa and reserpine

  • Toxins, such as manganese, carbon monoxide, and methanol

Certain drugs and toxins interfere with or block the action of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. For example, antipsychotic drugs, used to treat paranoia and schizophrenia, block dopamine ’s action. Use of the substance MPTP (which was first produced accidentally when illicit drug users tried to synthesize the opioid meperidine) can cause sudden, severe, irreversible parkinsonism in young people.

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