What Is And Isn’t Parkinson’s Disease
I am often asked if Parkinson’s Disease is a form of Alzheimers. Parkinson’s is not Alzheimers, ALS or a brain tumor, and the prognosis for Parkinson’s, though not a perfect scenario, leaves room to live a productive life.
PD is a progressive and chronic neurological disease that often begins with mild symptoms that advance gradually over time. Symptoms can be so subtle in the early stages that they go unnoticed, leaving the disease undiagnosed for years. For patients with Parkinson’s, there is a reduction in the body chemical dopamine, which controls movement and mood so simple activities like walking, talking and writing can be impacted.
Due to the complexity of PD, diagnosis is based on a variety of factors. The best diagnosis is made by an expert doing a careful history and exam followed by tracking responses to therapy. There is no blood or laboratory test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease.
While Parkinson’s reaches all demographics, the majority of people with PD are age 60 or older. Men and people with a family history of the disease have an increased risk.
How Early Can Parkinson’s Disease Be Diagnosed
A: A true determination of Parkinson’s disease is a clinical diagnosis, which means certain motor symptoms have to be present, but we now know more about some early signs of Parkinson’s disease that, while they don’t always lead to the condition, are connected.
In terms of how early we can detect, we can detect a mutation that is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s as early as birth. In the minority of patients who may have a known Parkinson’s-related genetic mutation , that gene could be tested for at any time in life. At the same time, that’s not diagnosing Parkinson’s; it’s just identifying the risk.
Early warning signs are what we call prodromal, or preclinical, symptoms. Prodromal symptoms are an early warning sign that someone might get Parkinson’s disease. Though some of these symptoms have a very high probability of signaling future Parkinson’s, having one or more of them is still not a 100 percent probability. Some prodromal symptoms are loss of sense of smell, REM behavior disorder, anxiety or depression, and constipation.
Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
The type, number, severity and progression of Parkinsons disease symptoms vary greatly. Every person is affected differently they may not get every symptom.;
Some of the more common symptoms are:
- resting tremor
- blood pressure fluctuation;
People living with Parkinsons for some time may experience hallucinations , paranoia ; and; delusions . These symptoms are able to be treated so have a talk with your doctor.
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What Are The Different Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Each person with Parkinsons disease experiences symptoms in in their own unique way. Not everyone experiences all symptoms of Parkinsons disease. You may not experience symptoms in the same order as others. Some people may have mild symptoms; others may have intense symptoms. How quickly symptoms worsen also varies from individual to individual and is difficult to impossible to predict at the outset.
In general, the disease progresses from early stage to mid-stage to mid-late-stage to advanced stage. This is what typically occurs during each of these stages:
Early symptoms of Parkinsons disease are usually mild and typically occur slowly and do not interfere with daily activities. Sometimes early symptoms are not easy to detect or you may think early symptoms are simply normal signs of aging. You may have fatigue or a general sense of uneasiness. You may feel a slight tremor or have difficulty standing.
Often, a family member or friend notices some of the subtle signs before you do. They may notice things like body stiffness or lack of normal movement slow or small handwriting, lack of expression in your face, or difficulty getting out of a chair.
Standing and walking are becoming more difficult and may require assistance with a walker. You may need full time help to continue to live at home.
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3. Loss of SmellMany people temporarily lose their sense of smell due to colds or the flu, but if the loss is sustained over a length of time without any noticeable congestion, then it could be an early sign of Parkinsons disease.
4. Sleeping DisordersTrouble sleeping can be attributed to many illnesses and Parkinsons disease is one of them. Waking due to sudden body movements, or thrashing your legs in your sleep could be a warning sign of the condition.
5. Stiffness in Walking and MovingGeneral stiffness that cant be attributed to exercise aches and pains and doesnt ease up when moving around could be an early warning sign of Parkinsons disease. Many patients complain that it feels like their feet are literally stuck to the floor.
6. ConstipationUnable to move your bowels is also a common early sign of Parkinsons disease. Although this is a common enough problem in healthy people, Parkinsons patients are more susceptible;to constipation. If you suddenly find youre constipated and consider your diet normal then you should have a doctor check you out.
7. Low or Soft VoiceA sore throat or a cold can change the way you speak, but if you have been experiencing a sudden softness to the tone of your voice and are now speaking in a quieter or hoarser tone, this could be an early symptom of Parkinsons disease.
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How Similar Is Canine Parkinsons Disease To The Human Condition
Parkinsons disease in dogs is very similar to how it affects humans.
Firstly, both unpredictably affect your movement. Both dogs and humans with this disease can expect to have sudden moments of stiffness. This could be any limb but also the face.
Equally, both can expect surprise tremors and shakes. This is often one of the first things owners notice in their dogs; a Parkinson like tremor in dogs or the dog shaking his head like Parkinsons
The core of the disease is the same in both dogs and humans.
However, it is important to recognize the different ways Parkinsons presents in dogs and humans.
A huge reason why Parkinsons disease is difficult to spot in dogs in the early stages is because they dont speak. Their faces also dont express the same ways that ours do.
The first signs of Parkinsons in humans are mostly not being able to move the face in the same way or slurred speech.
Unless you have a real-life Scooby-Doo in your life that is linguistically gifted, its most likely you wont spot the signs of Parkinsons in your dog until their limbs are affected with those Parkinsons tremors I mentioned a moment ago.
Another critical difference is with the age groups that Parkinsons most affects. As I said in the intro, it is usually the over 50s that are affected by this pervasive disease in the human world.
Parkinsons Disease In Dogs
Canine Parkinsons disease manifests in many similar symptoms to humans, such as tremors and a loss of balance. However, there are some key differences too.
In this guide, Ill break down the differences between Parkinsons disease in humans and dogs and the signs you should look out for. There are also some tips on how to care for your dog if they have unfortunately been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease and neurological disorders.
Before we get into it, its important I stress that I am not a veterinarian. I am just a dog owner and lover. Please consult your professional veterinarian to verify any and all information in this article.
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The First Motor Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
When people ask what are the early signs and symptoms of PD? the answer they are typically expecting is one that involves motor symptoms. Early motor symptoms of PD can be a subtle rest tremor of one of the arms or hands . A rest tremor is one that occurs when the limb is completely at rest. If the tremor occurs when the limb is suspended against gravity or actively moving, this may still be a sign of PD, but may also be a sign of essential tremor.
The initial motor symptom of PD may be a sense of stiffness in one limb, sometimes interpreted as an orthopedic problem . This sense of stiffness may be noted when a person is trying to get on his/her coat for example. A person may also experience a sense of slowness of one hand or a subtle decrease in dexterity of one hand. For example, it may be hard to manipulate a credit card out of a wallet or perform a fast, repetitive motor task such as whisking an egg. A person may notice that one arm does not swing when he/she walks or that one arm is noticeably less active than the other when performing tasks. Another motor sign may be a stoop with walking or a slowing down of walking. A family member may notice that the person blinks infrequently or has less expression in his/her face and voice.
These motor symptoms may be very subtle. Bottom line if you are concerned that you may have an early motor or non-motor symptom of Parkinsons disease, make an appointment with a neurologist for a neurologic exam to discuss your concerns.
Early Detection Is Important
Some people never share with their doctor a subtle symptom, such as a periodic involuntary jerk of a finger, because it doesnt cross their minds as something worrisome.But Dr. Joseph advises not to wait until symptoms progress to get checked out. That finger jerk could progress into a full-blown tremor.Dr. Joseph, who was inspired to treat patients with Parkinsons when she saw a deep brain stimulation; procedure stop a patients tremor in medical school, wants you to know that its normal to feel scared about having symptoms evaluated for a possible Parkinsons diagnosis.But she encourages you to be brave and get an exam for this important reason: People who start Parkinsons treatment earlier have less disability and longer lifespans!
Stiffness And Slow Movement
Parkinsons disease mainly affects adults older than 60. You may feel stiff and a little slow to get going in the morning at this stage of your life. This is a completely normal development in many healthy people. The difference with PD is that the stiffness and slowness it causes dont go away as you get up and start your day.
Stiffness of the limbs and slow movement appear early on with PD. These symptoms are caused by the impairment of the neurons that control movement. A person with PD will notice jerkier motions and move in a more uncoordinated pattern than before. Eventually, a person may develop the characteristic shuffling gait.
Can Dogs Get Parkinsons Disease + What Are The Signs
Parkinsons is an unfortunate part of many peoples lives. On average, 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinsons disease every year. As people get older, they become more susceptible to neurological disease. But did you know that dogs can also suffer with neurological disorders?
Can dogs get Parkinsons disease? Just like humans, dogs can get Parkinsons disease. Whilst canine Parkinsons is similar to the human disease in many ways, there are difference in the ways in which Parkinsons disease affects dogs.
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Stooping Or Hunched Posture
People who have Parkinsons disease may notice changes in their posture due to other symptoms of the disease, such as muscle rigidity.
People naturally stand so that their weight is evenly distributed over their feet. However, people who have Parkinsons disease may start bending forward, making them appear hunched or stooped over.
Who Gets Parkinson’s Disease
About 1 million people in the United States have Parkinson’s disease, and both men and women can get it. Symptoms usually appear when someone is older than 50 and it becomes more common as people get older.
Many people wonder if you’re more likely to get Parkinson’s disease if you have a relative who has it. Although the role that heredity plays isn’t completely understood, we do know that if a close relative like a parent, brother, or sister has Parkinson’s, there is a greater chance of developing the disease. But Parkinson’s disease is not contagious. You can’t get it by simply being around someone who has it.
What Is The Treatment For Parkinson’s Disease
There is currently no treatment to cure Parkinson’s disease. Several therapies are available to delay the onset of motor symptoms and to ameliorate motor symptoms. All of these therapies are designed to increase the amount of dopamine in the brain either by replacing dopamine, mimicking dopamine, or prolonging the effect of dopamine by inhibiting its breakdown. Studies have shown that early therapy in the non-motor stage can delay the onset of motor symptoms, thereby extending quality of life.
The most effective therapy for Parkinson’s disease is levodopa , which is converted to dopamine in the brain. However, because long-term treatment with levodopa can lead to unpleasant side effects , its use is often delayed until motor impairment is more severe. Levodopa is frequently prescribed together with carbidopa , which prevents levodopa from being broken down before it reaches the brain. Co-treatment with carbidopa allows for a lower levodopa dose, thereby reducing side effects.
In earlier stages of Parkinson’s disease, substances that mimic the action of dopamine , and substances that reduce the breakdown of dopamine inhibitors) can be very efficacious in relieving motor symptoms. Unpleasant side effects of these preparations are quite common, including swelling caused by fluid accumulation in body tissues, drowsiness, constipation, dizziness, hallucinations, and nausea.
Sure Signs You May Be Getting Parkinson’s According To Doctors
Last year, actor Michael J. Fox opened up about his over 22-year-long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. First diagnosed in 1998, the 59-year-old has been incredibly honest about his health struggles, which recently took a turn for the worst when a noncancerous tumor started growing on his spine two years ago, causing him to fall and break his arm.
“That was definitely my darkest moment,” Fox told People magazine in a recent interview. “I just snapped. I was leaning against the wall in my kitchen, waiting for the ambulance to come, and I felt like, ‘This is as low as it gets for me.’ It was when I questioned everything. Like, ‘I can’t put a shiny face on this. There’s no bright side to this, no upside. This is just all regret and pain.'” Read on to discover the signs of Parkinson’s, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss theseSure Signs You Had COVID and Didn’t Know It.
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What Is Rem Behavior Disorder And How Is It Connected To Parkinson’s
A: REM behavior disorder is different than other sleep problems, like insomnia. People who have it may jerk or kick it’s as though they are acting out their dreams. In a similar pattern to anosmia, people with idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder have at least a 50 percent chance of eventually developing Parkinson’s disease.
What Causes Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra become impaired or die. These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical that helps the cells of the brain communicate . When these nerve cells become impaired or die, they produce less dopamine. Dopamine is especially important for the operation of another area of the brain called the basal ganglia. This area of the brain is responsible for organizing the brains commands for body movement. The loss of dopamine causes the movement symptoms seen in people with Parkinsons disease.
People with Parkinsons disease also lose another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This chemical is needed for proper functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. This system controls some of the bodys autonomic functions such as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Loss of norepinephrine causes some of the non-movement-related symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists arent sure what causes the neurons that produce these neurotransmitter chemicals to die.
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What Is Parkinson’s Disease Its A Movement Disorder
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain illness that affects the way you move. In more clinical terms, Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system.
Normally, there are cells in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine sends signals to the parts of your brain that control movement. When approximately 60-80% of the dopamine-producing brain cells are damaged, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear, and you may have trouble moving the way you want.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic illness and it slowly progresses over time. While there is no therapy or medicine that cures Parkinsons disease, there are good treatment options available that can help you live a full life.
Its Time To Redefine Early Stage Parkinsons
The Parkinsons Foundation has shared 10 early signs of PD, including tremor, small handwriting, and loss of smell.
While younger people with early-onset PD may have some of the same signs and symptoms as older individuals, the onset may look different, so their issues may not be attributed to PD.
The American Parkinson Disease Association notes that, Because the majority of people who get Parkinsons disease are over the age of 60, the disease is often overlooked in younger people, leading many to go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for extended periods of time.
My sister was finally referred to a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Neurological Restoration in Ohio, as her symptoms slowly but consistently progressed. After multiple tests, including an MRI, cognitive testing, and a movement and balance analysis, she was diagnosed with PD.
One of Bevs early signs was weakness in her left hand, which she attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome. She regularly conducted echocardiograms and electrocardiograms, which required a lot of constant hand movement. She did not have stiffness or balance issues initially, but she did have a slight head tremor.
As Bevs PD progressed, she noticed that her writing was changing. She now has stage 3 PD and said, Sometimes I cant read my own writing. I feel like it looks like chicken scratch!
Bev also has cognitive issues, mostly related to her short-term memory.
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