How to identify Parkinson’s disease symptoms

It is estimated that more than a million Americans live with Parkinson‘s disease. This is a number which is rising steadily over recent years. One has to realize that Parkinson is a chronic and progressive disease which is neurological in nature. This disease has a number of symptoms which may be psychological or physical in nature. A variety of medicines are available to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s medications are directed at easing these symptoms and improving quality of life.

Parkinson disease is a neurological disease and most of its early signs are subtle and may vary in different individuals. Sometimes, the disease may go unnoticed for years before the tremors are too obvious to overlook. It is strongly recommended that you should get yourself checked by a physician, especially if the person’s family has a medical history associated with Parkinson disease. After identifying your medical history and other factors, your physician will prescribe Parkinson’s medications tailored to each patient’s unique symptoms. Medicinal treatment is started when symptoms begin to interfere with a person’s ability to perform his/her daily activities.

Early Symptoms

There are many subtle symptoms of Parkinson’s which are usually overlooked. If these symptoms are identified early, then it may be useful in getting medical intervention and tackle the disease before it becomes debilitating. Although there is no standardized set of symptoms, the following symptoms are generally considered to identify Parkinson’s disease:

    • The diminishing sense of smell
    • History of constipation
    • Body movements in sleep
    • Past history of depression and anxiety

In addition to these, the following symptoms may also indicate Parkinson’s:

    • Conversing in a low-volume voice
    • Slurring
    • Low blood pressure when standing
    • Foot cramps
    • Changes in personality
    • Skin problems
    • Drooling
    • Increased sweating
    • Increased urination urgency
    • Erectile dysfunction 

Physical Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder whose root lies in the reduced production of chemical messengers to the brain’s neurotransmitter. This chemical messenger is known as dopamine. Parkinson’s disease depletes the brain of dopamine.

Dopamine plays a vital role in muscle control and movement. Thus, a brain that is depleted or low on dopamine will not have complete control over muscle function. This lack of muscle control manifests in different motor symptoms that affect movement. Parkinson’s disease becomes more progressive as the dopamine levels in the body decreases. The most noticeable symptoms of Parkinson’s are the tremors in movements and slurred speech. Both these symptoms become more visible when almost 80% of the brains dopamine is exhausted.

There are four major physical symptoms of Parkinson’s:

    1. Trembling hands, legs, jaw
    2. Muscle rigidity
    3. Slow body movement
    4. Poor posture

Usually, these symptoms begin at one side of the body and gradually progresses to the other side. There are also symptoms related to vision. A person with Parkinson’s will have difficulty focusing on objects and may suffer from dry eyes and eyestrain. In addition to this, a person may have trouble opening the eyes or may blink excessively.

Cognitive Impairments- A person suffering from Parkinson’s also suffer from cognitive impairments. Such people have difficulty in being attentive, solve common problems or make snap decisions. Such changes are gradual and they are usually not very obvious. Such cognitive impairments become much more obvious as the disease progresses.

Image of a person experiencing Parkinson's disease symptoms, highlighting the challenges faced with motor control and movement.

The decrease in dopamine in the brain influences almost all the things associated with daily activities such as:

    1. Inability to decide or plan
    2. Seemingly easy tasks seem troublesome
    3. Difficulty in remembering memories
    4. Difficulty in being attentive in a group conversation

A person suffering from Parkinson’s is also at an increased risk of suffering from hallucinations or dementia.

Progressive and Degenerative Parkinson’s disease are believed to progress in five stages. However, with advanced medical intervention, it is possible to skip intermediate stages and focus treatment in a particular area. For example, a particular person suffering from cognitive impairment may skip motor function treatment to address cognitive issues.

Here are the five stages through which Parkinson’s progresses:

Stage I: Motor impairments are confined to one side of the body.

Stage II: Motor impairments are visible on both sides of the body.

Stage III: Maintaining balance becomes difficult

Stage IV: Motor functions deteriorate and the person becomes increasingly dependent for physical activities

Stage V: The person is bedridden

Medicinal treatment for Parkinson’s patients

There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms can be treated with the use of appropriate medications. Before making any decisions related to the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, fix an appointment with a physician. He will be the right person to guide you on this. Your physician will access you and discuss the pros and cos of Parkinson’s medications and will prescribe the best that works for you. He can further adjust your treatment plan based on your treatment response.

Also Read: Parkinson’s Disease Treatments and Drugs

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