Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system that mostly affects older people. Changes in pattern of movement and behavior can point to the beginning of Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms usually develop slowly over several years. The major symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors and slow, rigid movements.
Timely intervention is essential after noticing Parkinson’s disease signs because early treatment can improve the long-term result of the disorder.
Tremors involve a persistent twitching or shaking of the legs, hands, or chin. Tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease are very elusive when they initially appear. Tremors is described as a major typical sign of Parkinson’s disease by most healthcare professionals.
Tremors do appear on one side of the body and then spread to other parts of the body later on. The tremors are called “rest tremors.” This means the tremors stop when a person uses the affected body part. At the early stage, the tremors is usually slight, but gradually deteriorates as the disease progresses.
Loss of smell
The inability to smell any odor is called hyposmia or olfactory dysfunction. Parkinson’s disease usually causes loss of smell.
Though not related to movement, loss of smell is one of the most noticeable symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It can appear several years before the disease affects movement. Other symptoms associated with hyposmia are:
- Difficulty identifying or/and detecting odors
- Dull sense of smell
- Difficulty telling the difference between odors
Hyposmia does not necessarily imply that someone has Parkinson’s disease. Other factors that can affect a person’s sense of smell include smoking, age, or exposure to harsh chemicals.
Another early sign of Parkinson’s disease is changes in a person’s walking pattern. Parkinson’s disease may cause a person to walk slowly or drag their feet as they walk. The person might walk at an uneven pace, suddenly walking faster or slower.
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Parkinson’s disease can also affect a person’s ability to sleep. People with Parkinson’s disease may experience a wide range of sleep-related symptoms:
- sleep apnea
- narcolepsy (inability to remain awake)
- uncontrolled or sporadic movements while asleep
- daytime fatigue
Vocal changes is another early sign of Parkinson’s disease. Changes in volume and quality of vocal sound may involve speaking in a softer tone, or starting to speak at a usual volume and then the voice becomes softer or diminishes.
Parkinson’s disease often leads to facial masking – an inability to properly make facial expressions. In facial masking, the facial muscles move slowly and rigidly than normal. Facial masking can make someone to slowly or may find it hard to communicate with others due to changes in their facial expressions.
Parkinson’s disease can affect a person psychologically because it lowers the body’s natural levels of dopamine, which can cause changes in mood and behavior. Some psychological symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease include depression, psychosis, confusion, anxiety, dementia, difficulty making plans or solving problems.
Parkinson’s disease affects the basal ganglia (nerve cells located deep within the brain). These nerves control balance and flexibility, so any damage to these nerves can damage the proper balance of a person.
The “pull test” is usually used to assess the balance of a person with Parkinson’s disease. The involves gently pulling a person’s shoulders backward until they lose their balance and recording how long it takes them to regain their balance.
Bradykinesia means slowness or absence of movement. This condition causes stiffness of the limbs and slow movements.
Small, cramped handwriting
The condition that involves abnormally small or cramped handwriting is called micrographia. This condition affect the nervous system of people with Parkinson’s disease.
Sources: medicalnewstoday.com, Peoplemagazine.co.za, drugtargetreview.com
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