Hot Topics

Warning Signs for Parkinson's Disease

Warning Signs for Parkinson's Disease

By Christopher Coyne

With Parkinson's disease, a person's brain stops making an important chemical called dopamine. Dopamine helps the body to move, and regulates mood. Parkinson's is a degenerative disease that will get worse slowly over time, but if diagnosed early, and with vigilant treatment, a patient can remain healthier longer. Here are some warning signs to look for that could be early indicators of Parkinson's disease. No single sign is an indicator of Parkinson's in and of itself, but if you or someone you exhibits one or more of these signs-talk to your doctor.

 

  • Tremor or Shaking

Have you noticed a slight shaking or tremor in your finger, thumb, hand, chin or lip? Does your leg shake when you sit down or relax? Twitching or shaking of limbs is a common early sign of Parkinson's disease.

 

  • Small Handwriting

Has your handwriting suddenly gotten much smaller than in it was in the past? You may notice the way you write words on a page has changed, such as letter sizes are smaller and the words are crowded together.

 

  • Loss of Smell

Have you noticed you no longer smell certain foods very well? If you seem to have more trouble smelling foods like bananas, dill pickles or licorice, you should ask your doctor about Parkinson's disease.


  • Trouble Sleeping
Do you thrash around in bed or kick and punch while you are deeply asleep? You might notice that you started falling out of bed while asleep. Sometimes, your spouse will notice, or will want to move to another bed. Sudden movements during sleep may be a warning sign.


  • Trouble Moving or Walking
Do you feel stiff in your body, arms or legs? Sometimes stiffness goes away as you move. If it does not, it can be a sign of Parkinson's disease. You might notice that your arms don't swing when you walk, or maybe other people have said you look stiff. An early sign might be stiffness or pain in your shoulder or hips. People sometimes say their feet seem ‘stuck to the floor.'

Source:
National Parkinson Foundation

  • Constipation

Do you have trouble moving your bowels without straining every day? Straining to move your bowels can be an early sign of Parkinson's disease and you should talk to your doctor.

 

  • A Soft or Low Voice

Have other people told you that your voice is very soft when you speak in a normal tone, or that you sound hoarse? If there has been a change in your voice you should see your doctor about whether it could be Parkinson's disease. Sometimes you might think other people are losing their hearing, when really you are speaking more softly.


  • Masked Face
Have you been told that you have a serious, depressed or mad look on your face more often, even when you are not in a bad mood? This serious looking face is called masking. Also, if you or other people notice that you have a blank stare or do not blink your eyes very often, you should ask your doctor about Parkinson's disease.


  • Dizziness or Fainting
Do you notice that you often feel dizzy when you stand up out of a chair? Feeling dizzy or fainting can be signs of low blood pressure and can be linked to Parkinson's disease.


  • Stooping or Hunched Over
Are you not standing up as straight as you used to? If you or your family or friends notice that you seem to be stooping, leaning or slouching when you stand, it could be a sign of Parkinson's disease.