Every year, an estimated 50,000 people get diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This chronic, progressive neurological disease starts with mild signs that advance slowly with time. While the disease can affect persons of all ages, it mostly affects those aged 60 or more. However, persons in families that have a history of Parkinson’s are more at risk. Parkinson’s disease patients experience reduced levels of dopamine, a chemical that controls mood and movement. This impacts on how they undertake simple activities such as talking, walking and writing. There are 9 early signs of Parkinson’s Disease that you should be aware of.
Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease
At early stages, Parkinson disease symptoms can be extremely subtle to an extent that they go undetected. This means the disease can go undiagnosed for several years. Due to the complexity of Parkinson’s disease, diagnosis is often based on an array of factors. Experts have to undertake a careful examination of a patient’s history and track responses to therapy to make a proper diagnosis. While there is no single symptom for defining Parkinson’s Disease, friends and family members can help spot warning signs of the disease early. Here are important signs to look out for:
Patients with Parkinson’s disease tend experience extreme movements that are sudden like kicking, tossing and punching when deep asleep. They might also fall off the bed during sleep. They might also act their dreams out or report vivid dreams. These signs may be precede diagnosis of the disease.
Handwriting gets smaller
Parkinson’s disease tends to affect the way a person writes. Changes can be seen in the way a person writes words on paper. In most cases, the changes are manifested in writing smaller letters with words crowded together. If these changes are sudden, then it could be a Parkinson’s Disease symptom.
Shaking of Extremities
Incessant shaking of various parts such as thumb, finger, hand, leg, chin, tongue or lips can be an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease. This shaking tends to happen during rest but when the person moves, it disappears. This sign only occurs in one out of five Parkinson’s patients, an aspect that makes it easy to miss a diagnosis.
Tension in Muscles
Persons who are developing Parkinson’s might experience muscle tightness on the elbow, wrist, knee or hip. The uncontrolled tension can cause them to experience severe or mild pain that makes it hard for them to move around. The disease also affects the brain section that controls movement. This causes patients to take shuffled, short steps, not to swing arms or experience trouble in starting, turning and stopping to walk.
Losing the Sense of Smell
Research shows that loss of sense of smell is among the earliest signs of cognitive disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. This sign appears years before other cognitive signs appear. Patients who are developing Parkinson’s disease tend to lose smell of specific foods like dill pickles, bananas, or licorice or can’t smell them very well.
Persons who are developing Parkinson’s disease might have a masked face, with no facial expressions. Their appearance may appear flat even when they are content. Most patients are not able to realize this sign until it is described by other people with terms such as unhappy, not blinking eyes or having blank stares. If this happens, it is important to talk to a doctor for proper diagnosis.
Changes in Voice
Parkinson’s disease can cause a person to develop a soft or muffled voice known as hypophonia. This causes the person to have a quiet voice and tend to be unaware of the change in his or her voice. People around patients who are developing Parkinson’s disease keep asking them to speak up though they feel they are talking normally.
Constipation and Stooping Over
This a major sign that precedes other cognitive signs such as shaking in persons who are developing Parkinson’s disease. People with this disease also tend to lean, stoop or slouch over as they stand.
Feeling Dizzy and Anxious
Fainting or feeling dizzy regularly is an indication low blood pressure that may be linked to Parkinson’s disease. People who are developing this disease may also display mild signs of depression that can easily be missed.
If you, a loved one or a friend notice a combination of these early signs of Parkinson’s, you should consult your physician to see if Parkinson’s is in a beginning stage. There are treatments that can slow the progress of this disease