Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder which involves the death and malfunction of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons.
This usually occurs in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. It leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. A reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
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The disease develops gradually sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. The symptoms continue and worsen over time thereby damaging a part of the brain.
At the early stage of the Parkinson disease, there is always stiffness of muscles especially in the face or the arms. This will make a person unable to show expressions like smiling, laughing, swinging the arms and will cause slurred speech.
Parkinson’s comes with age. Most people with Parkinson’s start to develop symptoms when they’re over 50, although around 1 in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they’re under 40.
Although Parkinson’s disease does not have a cure, medications may markedly improve the symptoms. In occasional cases, doctors suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of the brain and improve symptoms. The disease is not fatal, however, complications from the disease are serious and sometimes fatal.
Here are 10 Early Symptoms to Watch For
The first red flag to watch for is of the disease is feeling a wave of dizziness when you make a make move after having been in one position for a while. To some degree, this can also be normal especially when you are not feeling well or just recovering from an illness.
But if you are not sick and you notice that waves of dizziness often hit you when you want to stand up or when you turn sharply, you might need to visit your doctor. This may be a sign of low blood pressure and can be linked to Parkinson’s disease.
This sign is particularly common in women who have reported it as the third-most-common warning sign they noticed (after tremor and stiffness) in surveys about how they first became aware of the disease.
Parkinson’s-related neck pain differs from common neck pain. This is because it persists, unlike a pulled muscle or cramp, which should go away after a day or two. For some people, this symptom shows up less as pain and more as numbness and tingling. Moreso, it might feel like an ache or discomfort down the shoulder and arm and leads to attempts to stretch the neck.
At the forefront of the symptoms of the Parkinson disease is a slight shaking or tremor in your finger, thumb, hand, chin or lip. It could also be your legs shaking when you sit down/relax or twitching and shaking of the limbs.
Shaking can be normal after lots of exercises or if you have been injured. Shaking could also be caused by medications you take. But if you do not fall into any of these categories but still experience tremors, you might want to consult your doctors for a proper check up.
Feeling a stiffness in your legs and arms after a workout routine is okay. Such kinds of stiffness go away after a while when your muscles must have adjusted to the routine. But a constant feeling of stiffness which does not go away even after a few minutes of movement, or inability to swing your arms when you move or when other people begin to notice that you look stiff, might be telltale signs of the disease.
Often times, such stiffness comes with pains especially in the shoulders, the hips or the back. Another illness that causes stiffness is arthritis.
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Loss of Smell
Certain ailments such as the flu or a cold may alter your sense of smell. But it is expected to return to normal after you get well. However, if you still cannot smell certain things, you need to do a thorough check up. Also, closely monitor how well you can smell things generally.
Tossing and turning at night when there are certain issues weighing you down is completely normal and of course, it’s a once in a while thing. But if you or your spouse notice that you frequently toss and turn every night without getting a proper night’s sleep, or if you begin to require more sleeping space than normal because people can no longer lie next to you and sleep well, this may be a sign of the Parkinson disease.
Movement of the bowels every day without much effort is the way it’s supposed to be. But when there is a lack of water or fiber in the body, it can cause difficulty in bowel movement and as such, one would need to strain to pass feces. This is a different issue entirely as it happens once in a while depending on how we eat.
However, constant strain in bowel movement could also be a sign of the Parkinson’s disease.
Changes in Hand Writing
As an adult, you already have a specific pattern of handwriting which is not expected to change much except for when you have an injury that affects the nerves in your wrist.
Generally, a shrinking handwriting pattern is a sign of Parkinson’s disease. People with PD have a hard time controlling movement because of the changes in the brain. This can make fine motor skills like writing more difficult. A person’s writing, therefore, gets smaller and crowded in one place.
Hunching over rather than standing erect when you are not too old or sick can be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. It makes one unable to stand or even sit as erect as they ordinarily should, or in most cases, they’ll need help to stand upright.
When Parkinson’s affects the autonomic nervous system, it loses its ability to regulate the body. This can cause changes in the skin and sweat glands. Some people find themselves sweating uncontrollably when there’s no apparent reason, such as heat or anxiety. For a woman, these attacks may feel much like the hot flashes of menopause. The official term for this symptom is hyperhidrosis.
Some people find themselves sweating uncontrollably when there’s no apparent reason, such as heat or anxiety. For a woman, these attacks may feel much like the hot flashes of menopause. The official term for this symptom is hyperhidrosis.
This condition can also show up in the form of excessively oily skin or an oily scalp resulting in dandruff. Many Parkinson’s sufferers also notice a problem with excessive saliva. This is actually caused by difficulty swallowing rather than producing more saliva.