Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder. In people with this disease, nerve cells in the brain break down and die. The symptoms of this disease develop gradually and vary from one person to another. Eventually, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can interfere with daily tasks.
While there’s no cure for Parkinson’s, there are treatments available. These treatments can help slow the progression of the disease, but they can’t yet reverse its effects. That’s why it’s so important to start treatment as soon as possible. The early warning signs of Parkinson’s can be subtle and can include these 10 symptoms.
1. Smell Loss
Loss of smell is an often-overlooked early symptom of Parkinson’s disease. It can start years before any of the motor symptoms of the disease occur. However, a reduced sense of smell can be caused by many other conditions, which can make diagnosis challenging.
Shaking, or tremors, may be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. This shaking often starts in the hands or fingers. At first, this shaking may only be noticeable to the person experiencing it. Later, it can become visible to others.
3. Difficulty Sleeping
Some sleep disorders may be early warning signs, too. Sleep disorders like rapid eye movement disorder and sleep apnea are commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease. The presence of sleep disorders can be a clue for doctors to look more closely.
Everyone feels stiff sometimes. But if the stiffness doesn’t go away when you stretch or move, it could be an early warning sign of Parkinson’s disease. Any part of your body could become stiff, but early stiffness is most noticeable in the shoulder, neck, or arms.
People who have Parkinson’s disease can have a faint reduction in dexterity. They could drop objects more often. They could also feel uncoordinated when performing activities like getting dressed or playing golf. If your loved one has never been a clumsy person, take any newly developed clumsiness seriously.
6. Writing Changes
The changes that occur with Parkinson’s disease can show up in people’s writing. People with Parkinson’s can lose spontaneous and routine movements, and this makes it harder to write. Writing can become smaller and tighter, and others may find it more difficult to read.
7. Voice Changes
Parkinson’s can affect the brain signals that control speech, and this lead to voice changes. For example, people may start speaking more softly or quickly than normal. They may hesitate before talking or slur their words. Frequently, voice changes are one of the early signs that friends and family notice.
8. Excessive Sweating
Some people with Parkinson’s disease notice they’re sweating for no apparent reason. This symptom is known as hyperhidrosis. The skin or scalp can also be excessively oily, and on the scalp, this can result in dandruff.
9. Mood Changes
Sometimes, mood changes are the first signs that Parkinson’s patients notice. For example, people who’ve never experienced depression before can start experiencing it before they’re diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Mood changes could also include not being able to concentrate as well or not being able to multitask.
One of the most common early symptoms of Parkinson’s is constipation. This can happen if Parkinson’s affects the nerves that regulate the muscles that work the bowels. However, since constipation can be caused by so many other conditions, this symptom is often overlooked. When constipation is caused by Parkinson’s, people often feel full even if they haven’t eaten much.
If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of Parkinson’s disease, see a doctor away. Receiving a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis can be scary, but learning about the condition early is key for starting treatment.