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.
What Are The Early Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a brain disorder that develops when the brain loss a certain group of cells. These cells produce dopamine, which is a neurochemical that control movement.
When the disease strikes the brain, the body begins to show early clinical signs; both motor and non-motor. Recognizing these signs and diagnosing the disease at early stage can help you to cope with the disease symptoms more effectively and improve your quality of life.
So, here are the early signs of Parkinsons disease that you should never ignore.
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.
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Who Gets Early Onset Parkinsons Disease
About 10%-20% of those diagnosed with Parkinsons disease are under age 50, and about half of those are diagnosed before age 40. Approximately 60,000 new cases of Parkinsons are diagnosed each year in the United States, meaning somewhere around 6,000 12,000 are young onset patients.
Is it genetic or hereditary?
The cause of Parkinsons disease is not yet known. However, Parkinsons disease has appeared across several generations of some families, which could indicate that certain forms of the disease are hereditary or genetic. Many researchers think that Parkinsons disease may be caused by genetic factors combined with other external factors. The field of genetics is playing an ever greater role in Parkinsons disease research, and scientists are continually working towards determining the cause or causes of PD.
Early Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
- Difficulty walking, the inability to walk naturally or swing ones arms is an early symptom of PD. People with PD also may take short, uneven steps , suffer from freezing spells, as well as experience difficulty judging obstacles and negotiating turns and corners.
- Tremors, particularly in the arms or hands. In early stages of the disease, tremor is usually experienced in one limb or on one side of the body, but other parts of the body may be affected as the disease progresses.
- Bradykinesia is the gradual degradation of movement caused by the brains lethargy in transmitting instructions to the desired parts of the body. Bradykinesia can affect facial muscles that may give the sufferer a mask-like appearance.
- Trouble with balance can be an early warning symptom of PD.
- Depression is common for people with PD.
- Loss of fine motor skills.
- Changes in handwriting, either shaky handwriting or writing smaller than usual.
- Changes in voice and speech patterns, such as softening voice or difficulty enunciating.
- REM Sleep Behavior Disorder , which causes people to act out dreams, often precedes the development of disorders such as PD.
- Memory loss, trouble problem-solving or decline in mental abilities.
- Skin disorders such as dry rough skin or dandruff.
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Common Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons is mostly known for its movement-related symptoms . Everyone with Parkinsons has the first symptom, bradykinesia. The term literally means slowness of movement. Researchers believe that this is due to changes in the motor areas of the brain . These changes interfere with the brains ability to execute the commands to move.
Experiencing bradykinesia alone does not result in a diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. The patient must also exhibit at least one of the following movement symptoms:
- Postural instability
Of the three, tremor is the most common and most commonly associated with the condition. It presents as a slight shaking in the hand or chin. Rigidity is when the patient experiences stiffness in the arms or legs that is not caused by arthritis. Finally, postural instability simply means that the patient has issues with balance or is prone to falling.
Other movement symptoms include:
- Insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, restless legs syndrome, vivid dreams, and other sleep disorders
- Losing sense of taste or smell
- Mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and apathy
Some non-movement symptoms do not become apparent until a patient has had PD for many years.
After Struggling For Four Years I Was Finally Given A Diagnosis At The Age Of 44
In July 2017, I found myself in yet another doctors office to see a third neurologist, this time for migraines. But the doctor didnt ask me about my headaches. Instead, he asked me to stand up and do a few exercises. Then, he sat down across from me, took a deep breath, and told me he suspected I had young onset Parkinsons disease .
I had been fighting for so long to figure out what was wrong with me that I had a small sense of satisfaction in receiving a diagnosis. But that satisfaction was fleeting and overwhelmed by an impending sense of fear. I knew there was no cure and I knew first-hand what the disease could look likemy father-in-law had Parkinsons disease. While I explained to my children that the disease affected everyone differently, they were worried I would end up like their Poppy, and I was too. I feared that this disease would take away my two greatest passions: my ability to take care of my kids and make art.
Most people with Parkinsons develop symptoms when theyre 50 or older, but 2 to 10 percent of uslike mebegin to experience signs of the disease earlier. Because young onset Parkinsons disease is so rare, its much harder to diagnose and many of us go untreated or misdiagnosed with something else.
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The 5 Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Getting older is underrated by most. Its a joyful experience to sit back, relax and watch the people in your life grow up, have kids of their own and flourish. Age can be a beautiful thing, even as our bodies begin to slow down. We spoke with David Shprecher, DO, movement disorders director at Banner Sun Health Research Institute;about a well-known illness which afflicts as many as 2% of people older than 65, Parkinsons Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease Diet And Nutrition
Maintaining Your Weight With Parkinson’s Disease
Malnutrition and weight maintenance is often an issue for people with Parkinson’s disease. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Weigh yourself once or twice a week, unless your doctor recommends weighing yourself often. If you are taking diuretics or steroids, such as prednisone, you should weigh yourself daily.
- If you have an unexplained weight gain or loss , contact your doctor. He or she may want to modify your food or fluid intake to help manage your condition.
- Avoid low-fat or low-calorie products. . Use whole milk, whole milk cheese, and yogurt.
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Early Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects movement. Approximately 1 million people in the U.S. are living with the disease. This year, about 60,000 more will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Many people associate Parkinson’s disease with tremors or shaking of their hands. While this is a common symptom, other important symptoms include stiffness of muscles and slowing of movement.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually start on one side of the body. They usually remain worse on that side even after symptoms begin to affect both sides.
The early signs and symptoms are different for each person. The symptoms may be mild enough to go unnoticed for months or years.
Here are early symptoms that can raise concern for Parkinson’s disease:
- Smaller handwriting
- Family members may observe that one arm swings less on one side when walking.
- Soft or low voice Again, it is family members or friends who may ask one to speak louder. The speech may be more of a monotone without the usual inflections.
It is the combination of several symptoms that would raise suspicion for Parkinson’s disease. A single symptom is not enough to make a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
It is important to talk with your health care provider if you have any of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. This is to properly diagnose the condition and rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
Is Parkinsons Disease Inherited
Scientists have discovered gene mutations that are associated with Parkinsons disease.
There is some belief that some cases of early-onset Parkinsons disease disease starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists identified a gene mutation in people with Parkinsons disease whose brains contain Lewy bodies, which are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to understand the function of this protein and its relationship to genetic mutations that are sometimes seen in Parkinsons disease and in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
Several other gene mutations have been found to play a role in Parkinsons disease. Mutations in these genes cause abnormal cell functioning, which affects the nerve cells ability to release dopamine and causes nerve cell death. Researchers are still trying to discover what causes these genes to mutate in order to understand how gene mutations influence the development of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists think that about 10% to 15% of persons with Parkinsons disease may have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to development of the disease. There are also environmental factors involved that are not fully understood.
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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!
Support For People With Parkinsons Disease
Early access to a multidisciplinary support team is important. These teams may include doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dietitians, social workers and specialist nurses.;Members of the team assess the person with Parkinsons disease and identify potential difficulties and possible solutions.There are a limited number of multidisciplinary teams in Victoria that specialise in Parkinsons disease management. But generalist teams are becoming more aware of how to help people with Parkinsons disease.;;
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How Is Constipation An Early Warning Sign Of Parkinsons Its Such A Common Problem
A: Its not as specific as other prodromal symptoms, like anosmia. The rate at which people with chronic and unexplained problems with constipation develop Parkinsons disease is not as easy to pin down. But if someone has unexplained, persistent constipation, it should at least be noted, as it could be considered prodromal.
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Prescription Medications To Treat Parkinsons
Most movement symptoms are due to a lack of dopamine. Therefore, drugs prescribed to treat PD are dopaminergic; they either replenish dopamine or mimic its effects on the brain. The most common is called levodopa. The body converts this medication into dopamine to help control movement symptoms.
Make sure your doctor knows all medications you take including over-the-counter and supplements. This helps reduce the risk of drug interactions, a common issue for Parkinsons patients.
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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.
Acting Out What Youre Dreaming
- People with REM sleep behavior disorder might talk in their sleep and flail their arms and legs during dreams, accidentally hitting or kicking a person in the same bed.
When people learn about the sleep disorder, they often say, Ive been doing that for years. Theyre sometimes astonished to learn its an early symptom of Parkinsons, Dr. Joseph says.
Medicines For Parkinson’s Disease
Medicines prescribed for Parkinson’s include:
- Drugs that increase the level of dopamine in the brain
- Drugs that affect other brain chemicals in the body
- Drugs that help control nonmotor symptoms
The main therapy for Parkinson’s is levodopa, also called L-dopa. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine to replenish the brain’s dwindling supply. Usually, people take levodopa along with another medication called carbidopa. Carbidopa prevents or reduces some of the side effects of levodopa therapysuch as nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and restlessnessand reduces the amount of levodopa needed to improve symptoms.
People with Parkinson’s should never stop taking levodopa without telling their doctor. Suddenly stopping the drug may have serious side effects, such as being unable to move or having difficulty breathing.
Other medicines used to treat Parkinsons symptoms include:
- Dopamine agonists to mimic the role of dopamine in the brain
- MAO-B inhibitors to slow down an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the brain
- COMT inhibitors to help break down dopamine
- Amantadine, an old antiviral drug, to reduce involuntary movements
- Anticholinergic drugs to reduce tremors and muscle rigidity
Apda In Your Community
It is common for a person with Parkinsons disease to attribute every new symptom that develops to PD. That is largely because the list of non-motor symptoms commonly associated with PD is so varied, it can seem that almost anything is a symptom of PD!; But if you take a closer look, there are some symptoms that are very commonly associated with PD, others that are virtually never associated with PD, and some in between.
Lets divide up non-motor symptoms into the following categories:
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