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  • Parkinson's Clinic INT

Causes of Parkinson’s Like Symptoms (Parkinsonism)

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Parkinson’s like symptoms or Parkinsonism is a general term for a neurological disorders that display very similar symptoms to Parkinson’s disease. Some of the Parkinsonism disorders include:

Drug-induced Parkinsonism

Taking medications, such as anti-psychotics, anti-epileptic, pro-kinetic, and others can result in the development of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Drug-induced Parkinsonism may be difficult to distinguish from Parkinson’s disease, but the symptoms (tremors, postural instability...) will gradually improve after use of the medication has stopped.

  • Anti-psychotics: Chlorpromazine, Promazine, Haloperidol, Perphenazine, Fluphenazine, and Pimozide.

  • Anti-epileptics (benzodiazepines): Lorazepam, Diazepam, Clonazepam, and Clobazam.

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) gastrointestinal motility (prokinetic): Metoclopramide, Levosulpiride, Clebopride, Itopride, and Domperidone.

  • CCBs (Calcium channel blockers): Flunarizine and Cinnarizine also used to control dizziness and headache.

  • Lithium on rare occasions can be a cause of DIP

Vascular Parkinsonism

Vascular Parkinsonism also known as cerebrovascular disease, is caused by a series of small strokes, that results in the death of parts of the brain, leading to the Parkinson’s like symptoms. In these circumstances most often symptoms will affect only the lower half of the body and include slow movements, tremor, difficulty with walking and balance, stiffness and rigidity and urinary incontinence as well as memory loss. Vascular Parkinsonism is more common with ageing, especially in people with diabetes and it tends to be less responsive to common Parkinson’s disease medication especially as it progresses.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)Corticobasal degeneration (CBD)

Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid that causes the ventricles in the brain to become enlarged. The symptoms of NPH are very similar to those observed in vascular Parkinsonism. NPH is most common in older adults. Estimated more than 700,000 Americans have NPH, but only less than 20% receive an appropriate diagnosis. Without appropriate diagnostic testing, NPH is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, or as the symptoms of aging.

Corticobasal degeneration (CBD)

CBD is the least common of the atypical Parkinsonism. It is caused by a buildup of proteins called tau, which damages parts of the brain and are linked with neurodegenerative diseases. The condition often start on one side of the body and over time slowly spread to other areas.

Progressive supra-nuclear palsy (PSP)

PSP is one of the more common forms of Parkinsonism it results from damage to nerve cells in the brain and a build-up of the protein tau. PSP affects movement, walking and balance, speech, swallowing, vision, mood, behavior, and thinking. It has a late age of onset, but the symptoms likely to progress far more rapidly and dementia can set in.

Multiple system atrophy (MSA)

MSA is caused by damage in multiple areas of the brain. Overproduction of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain, leads to damage which results in symptoms that are similar to idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, but progression is much faster.


Some of the infections implicated in the causation of Parkinsonism include: Measles virus, Postvaccinal parkinsonism, West Nile virus, Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme Disease, Borreliosis, Encephalitis, Coxsackie B virus, Poliomyelitis, Tuberculosis, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, AIDS and more....

Toxins & Pesticides

Exposure to toxins like pesticides and other chemicals has been known to cause Parkinsonism. Some of the poisons implicated in the causation of Parkinsonism include:

Neurotoxin MPTP (which causes permanent symptoms of Parkinson's disease by destroying dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain), carbon monoxide, manganese, cyanide, carbon disulfide, mercury, drugs like heroin and ecstasy as well as pesticides, glyphosate herbicide (Roundup) and Paraquat.

Other Causes of Parkinson's Like Symptoms

I addition brain trauma, tumors, a lack of oxygen in the brain (hypoxia) and some metabolic disorders have been shown to lead to Parkinson’s like symptoms.

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