A neurodegenerative disorder that impacts the neurons in a specific area of the brain, Parkinson’s disease typically develops slowly over a number of years. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s and the cause remains unknown, diagnosis is extremely beneficial. Not only does it help those affected understand the disease, but also it may help them access therapies that can treat their symptoms. Watch out for early symptoms of Parkinson’s in yourself and your loved ones to prevent the delay of a diagnosis.
Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s
When many people think of Parkinson’s, they think of this symptom: tremors, or involuntary shaking movements. This typically begins in a limb, most often the hand. If you feel yourself frequently shaking while relaxed and at rest, talk to your doctor. Sometimes tremors even happen when a person is deeply asleep, causing them to suddenly move and wake their partner.
Also known as bradykinesia, slowed movement is a sign of Parkinson’s. It may cause the person to take shorter steps or drag their feet when they walk. Over time, this may worsen and make it difficult to complete simple tasks efficiently.
You may notice that your muscles feel stiff or rigid, especially your shoulders, hips, and feet. This may be painful, and it could limit your range of motion. You might even say that your feet seem “stuck to the floor.”
Loss of Smell
Have you noticed that your sense of smelling has faded? If you haven’t recently been ill, this may be a sign of Parkinson’s.
Struggling with Routine Movements
Actions you have completed your entire life without thinking – blinking, smiling, swinging your arms as you walk, etc. – may suddenly feel awkward. You might struggle to do these unconscious movements or find yourself thinking about them more than usual. In addition, your loved ones may ask if you are feeling solemn, depressed, or angry due to your lack of facial expressions.
Speech & Writing Changes
You may find yourself speaking more softly, slurring, speeding through conversations, speaking in a monotone, or hesitating before you talk. Struggling to write is a sign of Parkinson’s as well, and sometimes people start writing with smaller lettering and crowd the words together (this is known as micrographia).
Worsened Posture or Balance
Have you noticed yourself becoming more stooped in posture? Or have you been feeling unbalanced and shaky on your feet? These symptoms sometimes result from Parkinson’s.
Constipation, or struggling to move your bowels without straining, can be a sign of many conditions. You may simply need to increase the amount of fiber in your diet or drink more water. However, it can also indicate Parkinson’s disease.
The early symptoms of Parkinson’s often go unnoticed, especially if they’re mild, so it’s important to listen to your body. In addition, note that signs of Parkinson’s typically begin on one side of your body.
If you believe you may suffer from Parkinson’s disease, don’t diagnose yourself. Visit your doctor for an evaluation.
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