How does Parkinson's progress?

There are over 40 symptoms of Parkinson’s. But the symptoms someone might have, the order they appear and how quickly they develop will be different for everyone.

For many people, the condition can take years to progress to a point where it has a real impact on daily life.

On this page we've listed some of the most common questions people have about how Parkinson's progresses.

Everyone's Parkinson’s experience is different, so it’s hard to predict how your symptoms may progress.

Parkinson's symptoms tend to appear gradually. The order they appear and the way they progress varies from person to person.

Also, how Parkinson's affects someone can change from day to day, and even from hour to hour. Symptoms that may be noticeable one day may not be a problem the next.

It’s important to remember that you might not experience every symptom. 

The most common symptoms of Parkinson's are:

But many people also have other symptoms, called non-motor symptoms. These include

While it isn't possible to slow down or stop your symptoms, many can be treated or managed with medication and therapies. Read more about treatments and therapies for Parkinson's.

Physical activity and exercise can also have a positive impact on your symptoms. The more physically active you are, the easier it is to live well with Parkinson’s.

Your Parkinson's is unique to you. This means there are lots of things that can help you manage your symptoms and what works for you may not work for someone else. 

We have lots of real-life stories and Q&As with experts about how to manage symptoms in our magazine

Advanced and more complex Parkinson's means a time when symptoms may be having more of an effect on your daily life.

It may be when Parkinson's drugs are less effective at managing your symptoms, or their side effects are outweighing their benefits.

It may be useful to plan ahead and understand what to expect with advanced Parkinson's.

Everyone with Parkinson's is different and symptoms will progress at a different rate. It's nothing to do with your age or how long you've had Parkinson's.

Advanced symptoms of a long-term condition like Parkinson’s can make people more vulnerable to poor health and increased disability. These complications can sometimes result in someone dying. When this happens, Parkinson’s can be recorded as a cause of death.

Complications can include:

  • aspiration pneumonia (caused by breathing in food or liquid and not being able to cough it back up)
  • falls
  • chest infections and pneumonia 

This is one of the reasons why it’s important to manage your condition as well as you can, with the support of specialist healthcare professionals

Our support services

Whether it’s in person, over the phone, meeting other people or simply reading a booklet. We’re here for you, however you need support.

Then and now

"I know who I am now - I didn't know who I was then because I was scared. But as the years go by you feel different."

In this video, Caz reflects on how she felt when she was first diagnosed with Parkinson's and how far she has come in 2 years.

Helpline and Parkinson's advisers

Our helpline and Parkinson's advisers are here to answer any questions you have about how Parkinson's progresses.

Call us on 0808 800 0303.

Last updated October 2022. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]