Understanding the early signs of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s is a disease of the central nervous system that affects a person’s movement and behavior over the years. The symptoms of Parkinson’s are subtle and develop slowly with some so faint that they are difficult to identify and associate to the condition. The symptoms are mild during the initial developing years but become severe due to the progressive nature of the condition.

The central nervous system is the primary means of communication connecting the brain to all parts of the body wherein neurons or active nerve cells carry and process the signals sent back and forth to trigger a certain response from the body to control motor skills or other associated activity. A decrease in the production of dopamine results in the nerve endings losing their functionality, leading to Parkinson’s disease. There is no known cure for it so most people focus on palliative care once the disease progresses to the worst stages.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s are subtle and develop over time. However, it is possible to identify the following early signs that might indicate a developing condition including tremors, rigid movements, and changes in behavior.

Weight loss
Mild to moderate weight loss can indicate subtle physical changes in the body. However, it is a common symptom that can be associated with multiple medical conditions which are why a thorough diagnosis to rule out health complications is necessary.

Psychological changes
Low levels of dopamine can trigger changes in one’s psychological well being. Visible indicators include depression, anxiety, psychosis, dementia, confusion, difficulty in making plans, and reduced cognitive function that can affect problem-solving ability.

Sleep problems
Insomnia, excessive daytime fatigue, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, nightmares, and sporadic movements are among the many sleep-related disorders that can indicate a developing Parkinson’s condition. The severity of the symptoms will vary accordingly depending on the extent of nerve damage.

It is among the common and more noticeable signs of a developing Parkinson’s disease. Hyposomnia affects the smell receptors making it difficult for a person to identify, detect, or tell the difference between odors as a result of a dull sense of smell.

Physical difficulties
Changes in one’s posture due to muscle rigidity are one of the physical indicators of Parkinson’s. The condition can force a person to hunch or stoop more than often while sitting or walking. Balance and flexibility are also affected as Parkinson’s disease affects the Basal Ganglia nerves responsible for controlling one’s movement.

Limb control
The condition also results in slowness or absence of movement due to the stiffness of the limbs. Often these subtle changes in one’s walking can be confused with muscle weakness. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that can also affect one’s gross motor skills. Changes in handwriting can also indicate a developing problem.

Experiencing tremors are among one of the key characteristics of Parkinson’s disease as it causes the person to suffer from involuntary twitching that can affect the hands, legs, or one’s chin. Rest tremors are associated with Parkinson’s as they tend to stop when the affected body part is engaged. For example, if one is experiencing hand tremors, performing an activity like picking up something heavy can stop the tremors temporarily.


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