4 Signs of Parkinson's Disease
Since Parkinson's disease symptoms all have other reasonable causes, it's important to rule those potential causes out. The earlier a Parkinson's patient seeks treatment, the more likely he can take the steps that can slow the disease's progression. If you suspect you have Parkinson's, discuss your symptoms with your physician and ask for a referral to a neurologist.
One of the key symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease is twitching or tremors, commonly in the legs, fingers or lips. The tremors can be intermittent, often occurring while your body is at rest. One version of this symptom, known as a pill-rolling tremor, consists of involuntarily rubbing your thumb and index finger against each other. This symptom can mimic the natural shaking that sometimes occurs after extreme exercise, when muscles tremble because they've been depleted. In addition, some medications cause tremors that are similar to those found in early stages of Parkinson's.
If you find that your natural handwriting or printing is changing without you intending it to, that may be a symptom of Parkinson's. Some patients with the disease find that their handwriting becomes tiny, often with words crowded together. While many people's handwriting quality diminishes with age, if this occurs suddenly, it could be a symptom of Parkinson's.
Bradykinesia is the medical term for the slowed movements that are often a sign of Parkinson's disease. Patients often find themselves taking very small, careful steps as they walk or having difficulty getting out of a chair quickly. In addition, they frequently end up dragging their feet, sometimes feeling as if their feet are stuck to the floor and too difficult to lift.
Other movements can also become slow or awkward. Many Parkinson's patients stop swinging their arms naturally as they walk or have trouble turning or stopping walking once they've started. They also experience significant stiffness in their hips or shoulders. These symptoms all occur because the disease affects the area of the brain that controls gross motor skills. Rule out stiffness due to any recent injury before assuming these are symptoms of Parkinson's.
Loss of Smell
Parkinson's patients typically experience a diminished sense of smell as their disease progresses. While smell can be temporarily lost due to respiratory infections, Parkinson's patients find themselves unable to detect even strong scents such as bananas, licorice or dill pickles. Loss of smell may be one of the earliest signs of Parkinson's, sometimes appearing years before tremors or muscle movement problems.
Parkinson's disease is a condition with symptoms that are often difficult to recognize. In fact, Parkinson's frequently goes undiagnosed for many years because the early symptoms are so mild. Typically, these only affect one side of the body at first, and as the disease progresses, the symptoms may continue to be worse on that side. If you or someone you love is showing more than one of these signs of Parkinson's, make an appointment to see your doctor.