As a chronic neurological condition, Parkinson's disease disrupts bodily movements. It is a condition linked to the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. But what are the symptoms of Parkinson's disease? What signs should raise alarm? How can one be sure to identify them correctly and detect them in time? The question is complex considering that symptoms can vary from one individual to another. In this article, we will review the most common physical and psychological signs of the disease.
Among the most common physical symptoms of Parkinson's disease, tremors are often the first to appear. While they frequently affect the hands, they can also extend to the arms, legs, and even the head. Generally, tremors tend to worsen with stress. Additionally, there is a certain muscular stiffness. This is due to muscle rigidity, which makes movements more difficult and painful for the patient. This muscular stiffness is often found in the arms and legs but can affect the rest of the body as well.
Slowed movements are also a symptom of Parkinson's disease. Consequently, even simple daily tasks like eating, grooming, dressing, or brushing teeth can become complicated. Movements become slower and more challenging to manage and execute. In scientific terms, this is also referred to as "bradykinesia." This symptom may be accompanied by difficulty in moving and balancing, resulting in a loss of coordination. In practice, a person may have trouble changing direction, turning, or pivoting. This is why falls are common among Parkinson's patients.
Another physical symptom is limited facial expressions. The term "hypomimia" is used to describe this phenomenon. It is a direct consequence of muscular stiffness, resulting in difficulties expressing emotions through facial expressions. As a result, a person with Parkinson's may appear stoic or unexpressive, even when experiencing intense emotions.
Another symptom to watch for is dysarthria, which refers to changes in voice. Again, this is a result of muscle rigidity. When the muscles in the throat and respiratory pathways tighten, the patient's voice tends to become monotone or even inaudible. It's not uncommon for a person with Parkinson's disease to struggle with clear articulation or controlling the volume of their voice. The lack of intonation can make the voice sound more monotonous and hinder communication.
In addition to purely physical symptoms of Parkinson's disease, which we have just discussed, there are also psychological symptoms to consider. These include sleep disturbances, which can range from repeated episodes of insomnia to nightmares or breathing problems during sleep. Sometimes, the person may experience uncontrollable movements during sleep. These sleep disturbances should be taken seriously as they can significantly disrupt the patient's quality of life, leading to daytime fatigue and drowsiness.
Cognitive impairments can be another early sign of Parkinson's disease. These may manifest as memory loss, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms are not the most common and can be interpreted as signs of other neurological conditions, particularly Alzheimer's disease. Nevertheless, they are concerning signs that should be carefully monitored. Parkinson's disease progresses in stages, and symptoms may change over time.
We emphasize the importance of seeking a diagnosis from a healthcare professional if there is suspicion of Parkinson's disease. Especially since the symptoms of the condition can vary from person to person.
While some seniors may experience mild and manageable symptoms, others may rapidly develop more severe symptoms that can impact daily life. Furthermore, the symptoms of the disease can evolve over time. Hence, it's crucial to react promptly when the first signs appear.
A doctor can subject you or your loved one to a series of tests to confirm whether it is indeed Parkinson's disease. If so, they can recommend a personalized treatment plan, which may include medication or cognitive therapies.
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