When you hear about Parkinson’s disease, you might think of such notable celebrities as Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. But just like any disease, it can happen to anyone.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, and as of 2013, it affected 53 million people across the globe, resuling in 103,000 deaths.
Parkinson’s is most known for manifesting in slow and shaky movements, along with difficulty walking. Others may also experience issues with sleep, senses, and emotions.
There’s no cure for Parkinson’s, but it is treatable. That’s why it’s of utmost importance that it’s caught early. Like most other diseases, treatment is more successful (and quality of life better) when it’s detected early on.
Thanks to celebrities like Michael J. Fox, there is increasing awareness and research going into Parkinson’s, and specialists around the world are searching for a cure and for improved treatments — even some pretty unconventional ones.
Diseases aren’t vanquished overnight, but rather through a growing understanding of what they are, how they’re caused, and what they do. With more knowledge comes more chances to find a cure.
And that’s why you should know the warning signs of Parkinson’s, both for your health and the health of your loved ones! Read on to discover the symptoms.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease, or PD, is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, and there is currently no cure.
Symptoms typically come on slowly over a long period of time, and usually occur after the age of 60. Men are more likely to be affected than women.
It’s not known exactly what causes Parkinson’s, though it does seem to run in families. Exposure to certain pesticides and past head injuries can also increase the risk.
Symptom #1: Shaking And Tremors
Tremors usually start in one or both hands, and will spread to other areas of the body over time.
Many times, the tremors happen when the body is at rest, but not in motion or action. So the hands may shake while resting, but the tremors will stop if the person reaches for something.
Over time, though, the tremors will become more constant, and will affect the person’s ability to perform tasks such as writing.
Symptom #2: Slowness Of Movement
The technical term is bradykinesia, but it just means that the body moves more slowly than normal, and this slowness is not voluntary.
The slowness is most evident at the beginning of a motion, like reaching for something or getting up out of a chair.
Automatic motion may become something that the person has to think consciously about.
Symptom #3: Stiffness
Parkinson’s causes muscle stiffness, which can make moving all the more difficult.
Typically, the stiffness is more pronounced on one side of the body.
Symptom #4: Trouble With Balance
As with the slowness and tremors, this is a sign that the nervous system is not communicating properly with the body.
People with Parkinson’s find it difficult to stay balanced while walking and standing, and may stumble or fall frequently. Falling backwards is common.
In an aged person, falls are also very dangerous, and can lead to other complications.
Symptom #5: Loss Of Facial Expression
As the body’s muscles become stiff and slowed, they’ll also affect the face, resulting in an expressionless look.
This is because quick, automatic motions like smiling or frowning are slowed.
Symptom #5: Dragging Feet Or Shuffling Walk
As the muscles (and thus motion) become impaired, it’s not uncommon for the foot and leg on the affected side of the body to drag a bit while walking.
This can be slight or pronounced, but it will make walking slower, less steady, and uneven.
Symptom #7: Muffled Speech
Stiffness in the facial muscles not only makes it hard to smile, but also hard to form words clearly, so someone with Parkinson’s might be difficult to understand.
Their speech may sound muffled or slurred because their lips are having trouble forming the shapes of speech.
Symptom #8: Difficulty Thinking Clearly
Parkinson’s affects the nervous system, which of course includes the brain.
This means that many people with Parkinson’s suffer from mental and emotional troubles, too, including depression, anxiety, hallucinations, and psychosis.
They may also find it hard to form thoughts or concentrate.
Symptom #9: Trouble With Automatic Functions
Automatic functions like blinking and swallowing may also become difficult with Parkinson’s, and people with Parkinson’s may also drool, as they lose control over their mouth muscles.
Parkinson’s can also manifest in various other neurological and emotional ways, and no two people will experience the disease the same way.
If you see any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, talk to your doctor immediately about treatment options.