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What’s The First Sign Of Parkinson’s Disease

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.

Stage Two Of Parkinsons Disease

Stage two is still considered early disease in PD, and it is characterized by symptoms on both sides of the body or at the midline without impairment to balance. Stage two may develop months or years after stage one.

Symptoms of PD in stage two may include the loss of facial expression on both sides of the face, decreased blinking, speech abnormalities, soft voice, monotone voice, fading volume after starting to speak loudly, slurring speech, stiffness or rigidity of the muscles in the trunk that may result in neck or back pain, stooped posture, and general slowness in all activities of daily living. However, at this stage the individual is still able to perform tasks of daily living.

Diagnosis may be easy at this stage if the patient has a tremor; however, if stage one was missed and the only symptoms of stage two are slowness or lack of spontaneous movement, PD could be misinterpreted as only advancing age.

Alternative Therapies To Treat Parkinsons Disease

Although no herbs or supplements have been approved by the FDA to treat Parkinsons, there are a variety of alternative therapies currently being researched.

  • Calcium supplements are often prescribed because dairy makes it harder for the body to absorb levodopa.
  • Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant thought to improve mitochondria health. Some researchers believe abnormal function of the mitochondria may play a role in Parkinsons.
  • Creatine may help increase levels of phosphocreatine, a substance that provides energy to the brain.
  • Folate, aka vitamin B9, is vital to both brain health and the nervous system.
  • Ginger is often recommended to reduce nausea caused by medications.
  • The Mediterranean Diet may help manage symptoms and reduce blood pressure.
  • Vitamin D supplements may be needed to help your body absorb calcium, particularly if you dont get enough sunshine.
  • Vitamin E may help fight damage to brain cells caused by free radicals, although studies concluded it does nothing to manage symptoms after diagnosis.

Finally, anecdotal evidence suggests that medical marijuana, now legal in 33 states plus Washington, D.C., may help patients with Parkinsons disease. The Parkinsons Foundation has a full page on the research being conducted to determine whether medical marijuana is a viable treatment option for PD patients.

History Of Parkinsons Disease

Symptoms and possible treatments for Parkinsons were discussed in texts related to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical practice thats been around since as early as 5,000 B.C. A Parkinsons-like condition was also mentioned in the first Chinese medical text, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, more than 2,500 years ago.

Parkinsons disease was formally recognized in an 1817 paper, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, by James Parkinson, MD, a London doctor and member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Dr. Parkinson observed what are now known as the classic symptoms of Parkinsons disease, including tremors, rigidity, and postural instability. He theorized that the disease developed because of a problem in the brains medulla region.

Parkinsons essay received little attention until 1861, when French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and his colleagues distinguished the disease from other neurological conditions and termed it s disease.

Early Warning Signs Of Parkinsons Disease

Epidemiology of Parkinson

Signs vary from person to person, and some patients dont experience any early warning signs. However, early symptoms include:

1. Tremors: While most people are familiar with the shaking that comes along with this illness, it usually starts with less noticeable tremors. It could be just a finger, or the chin before it overtakes the hands or face.

2. Interrupted Sleep:Parkinsons Disease can first present with sudden jerking movements when laying down to sleep. These movements can result in frequent disruptions in sleep throughout the night subsequently causing the patient to be exhausted during waking hours.

3. Difficulties When Writing: If once upon a time, you could write without any issues, but now getting the words on paper is burdensome or if youve noticed significant differences in your handwriting, this is cause for concern.

4. Stooped Posture: Parkinsons will often make it difficult to stand up straight. While by itself, poor posture is not necessarily a sign of PD, coupled with some of the other symptoms on this list, its a red flag.

5. Walking Becomes Difficult: Walking is something that most people take for granted until this most mundane of activities becomes painful. Whether its hard to move your arms as you walk, or your legs feel stiff, or you are taking small shuffling steps, these are early signs of PD.

7. Limited Range of Motion: This is due to constant muscle stiffness, even if you havent changed your daily routines.

How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and your past health and will do a neurological exam. This exam includes questions and tests that show how well your nerves are working. For example, your doctor will watch how you move, check your muscle strength and reflexes, and check your vision.

Your doctor will also ask questions about your mood.

In some cases, your doctor may have you try a medicine. How this medicine works may help your doctor know if you have Parkinson’s disease.

There are no lab or blood tests that can help your doctor know whether you have Parkinson’s. But you may have tests to help your doctor rule out other diseases that could be causing your symptoms. For example, you might have an to look for signs of a or brain tumor.

What Is The Prognosis And Life Expectancy For Parkinson’s Disease

The severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms and signs vary greatly from person to peson, and it is not possible to predict how quickly the disease will progress. Parkinson’s disease itself is not a fatal disease, and the average life expectancy is similar to that of people without the disease. Secondary complications, such as , falling-related injuries, and choking can lead to death. Many treatment options can reduce some of the symptoms and prolong the quality of life.

Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually develop gradually and are mild at first.

There are many different symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Some of the more common symptoms are described below.

However,the order in which these develop and their severity is different for each individual.It’s unlikely thata personwith Parkinson’s disease would experience all ormost of these.

Early Signs Of Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that particularly does not have a permanent cure. However, proper medications under the guidance of a medical expert may improve the Parkinsons symptoms a bit. Here is a list of 5 early signs of this condition:

  • Shaking and TremorsAre you experiencing tremors or slight shaking in the hand, thumb, finger or chin even while you are at rest? This is one of the most common Parkinsons symptoms. After exercising, getting injured or when you are a bit stressed, such shaking is normal. If that is not the case, seeking medical attention is important.
  • Loss of smellAre you losing your smelling sense for certain foods like licorice or dill pickles, bananas? Well, if you are suffering from a stuffy nose due to cold or down with flu, the sense of smell can be changed. However, if the smelling sense is not getting back ever after recovering from it, then it can be one of the early signs of Parkinsons disease.
  • Small handwritingHave you noticed any changes in the handwriting style? Are you writing the words without space or the letter sizes have become smaller than the way you used to write before? This is known as micrographia, a sudden change in the handwriting style which is one of the Parkinsons symptoms at the earlier stage.

Other than all the aforementioned Parkinsons symptoms, the following are a few more early signs of having this nervous disorder:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • A low or soft voice
  • Hunching over or stooping

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 , 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, , , hallucinations, and .

How Will Parkinson’s Disease Affect Your Life

Finding out that you have a long-term, progressive disease can lead to a wide range of feelings. You may feel angry, afraid, sad, or worried about what lies ahead. It may help to keep a few things in mind:

  • Usually this disease progresses slowly. Some people live for many years with only minor symptoms.
  • Many people are able to keep working for years. As the disease gets worse, you may need to change how you work.
  • It is important to take an active role in your health care. Find a doctor you trust and can work with.
  • Depression is common in people who have Parkinson’s. If you feel very sad or hopeless, talk to your doctor or see a counselor.
  • It can make a big difference to know that you’re not alone. Ask your doctor about Parkinson’s support groups, or look for online groups or message boards.
  • Parkinson’s affects more than just the person who has it. It also affects your loved ones. Be sure to include them in your decisions.

Stooping Or Hunching 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 .

What is normal?If you have pain from an injury or if you are sick, it might cause you to stand crookedly. Also, a problem with your bones can make you hunch over.

Stage Three Of Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons Disease Stages Timeline

Stage three is considered mid-stage and is characterized by loss of and of movement.

Balance is compromised by the inability to make the rapid, automatic and involuntary adjustments necessary to prevent falling, and falls are common at this stage. All other symptoms of PD are also present at this stage, and generally diagnosis is not in doubt at stage three.

Often a physician will diagnose impairments in reflexes at this stage by standing behind the patient and gently pulling the shoulders to determine if the patient has trouble maintaining balance and falls backward . An important clarifying factor of stage three is that the patient is still fully independent in their daily living activities, such as dressing, hygiene, and eating.

Eat Organic Whenever Possible

More research needs to be done on this subject, but many experts now believe pesticides can increase the risk of Parkinsons disease. Researchers have found high levels of pesticides inside the brains of people with Parkinsons, and those chemicals can suppress the production of dopamine. Products that are certified organic arent supposed to contain any chemical pesticides or herbicides.

What Is Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons disease is a nervous system disease that affects your ability to control movement. The disease usually starts out slowly and worsens over time. If you have Parkinsons disease, you may shake, have muscle stiffness, and have trouble walking and maintaining your balance and coordination. As the disease worsens, you may have trouble talking, sleeping, have mental and memory problems, experience behavioral changes and have other symptoms.

If You Develop A Tremor

Urgent medical care isn’t needed if you’ve had a tremorshaking or tremblingfor some time. But you should discuss the tremor at your next doctor’s appointment.

If a tremor is affecting your daily activities or if it’s a new symptom, see your doctor sooner.

A written description will help your doctor make a correct diagnosis. In writing your description, consider the following questions:

  • Did the tremor start suddenly or gradually?
  • What makes it worse or better?
  • What parts of your body are affected?
  • Have there been any recent changes in the medicines you take or how much you take?

Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin D And Omega

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of Parkinsons disease, whereas vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure are associated with a reduced risk. How does vitamin D combat neurodegeneration in Parkinsons disease? A high density of vitamin D receptors reside in the part of the brain most affected by Parkinsons disease; this finding suggests that vitamin D regulates the function of neurons.

Vitamin D also lessens the severity of autoimmunity and regulates neurotrophins, proteins that induce the survival, development, and function of neurons. Vitamin D is one nutrient you wont want to skimp on if your goal is to prevent Parkinsons disease!Safe sun exposure is the best method for boosting vitamin D levels. However, full-body sun exposure is not possible for most people year-round; in this case, I recommend you take cod liver oil and eat fatty cold-water fish, beef liver, and egg yolks to obtain dietary vitamin D.

Omega-3 fatty acids, like EPA and DHA, are critical for normal brain development and function across the lifespan. Low levels of EPA and DHA increase the risk of neurodegeneration, whereas omega-3 supplementation can help reduce neuron death in the brain, alleviate neuroinflammation, boost antioxidant enzymes, and relieve motor symptoms in PD. EPA and DHA are abundant in seafood, so I recommend consuming two to three servings of seafood per week to achieve a healthy intake of these neuroprotective fatty acids.

Fox Tries To Remain Optimistic About His Parkinson’s Battle

Fox began his fight against Parkinson’s with awe-inspiring optimism. “It’s made me stronger. A million times wiser. And more compassionate. I’ve realized I’m vulnerable, that no matter how many awards I’m given or how big my bank account is, I can be messed with like that,” Fox toldPeoplein 1999.

While he admits that he has gone through tough times and experienced low points he couldn’t find a silver lining in, he’s been able to return to that sense of optimism, which he said is “rooted in gratitude.”

In his , No Time Like the Future, which came out in 2020, Fox wrote that “optimism is sustainable when you keep coming back to gratitude, and what follows from that is acceptance. Accepting that this thing has happened, and you accept it for what it is.” He continued: “It doesn’t mean that you can’t endeavor to change. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it as a punishment or a penance, but just put it in its proper place. Then see how much the rest of your life you have to thrive in, and then you can move on.”

What Causes Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells, or neurons, in an area of the brain that controls movement become impaired and/or die. Normally, these neurons produce an important brain chemical known as dopamine. When the neurons die or become impaired, they produce less dopamine, which causes the movement problems of Parkinson’s. Scientists still do not know what causes cells that produce dopamine to die.

People with Parkinson’s also lose the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, the main chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls many functions of the body, such as heart rate and blood pressure. The loss of norepinephrine might help explain some of the non-movement features of Parkinson’s, such as , irregular blood pressure, decreased movement of food through the digestive tract, and sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up from a sitting or lying-down position.

Many brain cells of people with Parkinson’s contain Lewy bodies, unusual clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to better understand the normal and abnormal functions of alpha-synuclein and its relationship to genetic mutations that impact Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia.

How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated

There is no cure for Parkinsons disease. However, medications and other treatments can help relieve some of your symptoms. Exercise can help your Parkinsons symptoms significantly. In addition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy can help with walking and balance problems, eating and swallowing challenges and speech problems. Surgery is an option for some patients.

Physical Activity Can Reduce The Risks Of Parkinsons Disease

Parkinson

Physical activity plays an active role in the prevention and treatment of PD. The relationship between physical activity and risk of PD was first reported in the Nurses Health Study and HPFS, and later in five other longitudinal studies . The results of prospective epidemiological studies suggest that active physical activity reduces the risk of PD in men, but the mechanism is uncertain . There is no strong supporting evidence for the hypothesis that physical activity can prevent male PD in the Harvard Alumni Health Study. Nevertheless, a smaller sample size study shows a negative and nonsignificant association between physical activity and PD . A study of 143,325 participants from CPS-II-N has found that vigorous activity was associated with PD in men and women, while a reduction in PD risk through moderate to vigorous activity . The study of 213,701 participants of NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study cohort also confirmed this view that higher levels of moderate to vigorous activities at ages 35-39 or in the past ten years as reported in 1996-1997 were associated with low PD incidence after 2000, which was with a significant dose-response relationship. Compared to individuals who were inactive during the two periods, the risk of PD reduced by approximately 40% in the further analysis . Another study from the Swedish National March cohort showed that the total amount of daily activity was associated with a lower risk of PD, but womens correlation was not apparent to men .

Theory Of Pd Progression: Braaks Hypothesis

The current theory is that the earliest signs of Parkinson’s are found in the enteric nervous system, the medulla and the olfactory bulb, which controls sense of smell. Under this theory, Parkinson’s only progresses to the substantia nigra and cortex over time.

This theory is increasingly borne out by evidence that non-motor symptoms, such as a loss of sense of smell , sleep disorders and constipation may precede the motor features of the disease by several years. For this reason, researchers are increasingly focused on these non-motor symptoms to detect PD as early as possible and to look for ways to stop its progression.

Page reviewed by Dr. Ryan Barmore, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinsons Foundation Center of Excellence.

*Please note that not all content is available in both languages. If you are interested in receiving Spanish communications, we recommend selecting both” to stay best informed on the Foundation’s work and the latest in PD news.

What Are The Primary Motor Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease

There are four primary motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease: tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability . Observing two or more of these symptoms is the main way that physicians diagnose Parkinsons.

It is important to know that not all of these symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of Parkinsons disease to be considered. In fact, younger people may only notice one or two of these motor symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. Not everyone with Parkinsons disease has a tremor, nor is a tremor proof of Parkinsons. If you suspect Parkinsons, see a neurologist or movement disorders specialist.

Tremors

Read more about Parkinsons tremors

Rigidity

Bradykinesia

mask-like expression of the face

Postural Instability

Walking or Gait Difficulties

episodes of freezing

Dystonia

Vocal Symptoms

Reduced Sense Of Smell

Most Parkinsons patients in their early stage are reported to have a reduced sense of smell. This problem occurs several years prior to the appearance of motor symptoms, and therefore researchers think that this could be among the early warning signs of the disease.

The link between loss of smell and Parkinsons disease has been increasingly realized in recent years. In fact, suggests that it could be one of the screening tools for diagnosing Parkinsons disease.

In Summary Reduce Your Stress

The most important thing we can do for our long-term health, both physical and cognitive, is to reduce the stress in our bodies. All stress physical, emotional and chemical causes inflammation and long-term damage throughout the body.

Whether youre seeking Parkinsons prevention techniques or ways to alleviate symptoms, any of the above dietary and lifestyle practices can have long-term health benefits. Drinking green tea, eating organic, local vegetables, and regular aerobic exercise all significantly reduce the long-term cumulative damage done by stress.

Learn more about health services offered at Judson by !

Stage One Of Parkinsons Disease

In stage one, the earliest stage, the symptoms of PD are mild and only seen on one side of the body , and there is usually minimal or no functional impairment.

The symptoms of PD at stage one may be so mild that the person doesnt seek medical attention or the physician is unable to make a . Symptoms at stage one may include , such as intermittent tremor of one hand, , or one hand or leg may feel more clumsy than another, or one side of the face may be affected, impacting the expression.

This stage is very difficult to diagnose and a physician may wait to see if the symptoms get worse over time before making a formal diagnosis.

No One Definitive Cause Of Parkinsons

There are no biomarkers or objective screening tests that indicate one has Parkinsons. That said, medical experts have shown that a constellation of factors are linked to it.

Parkinsons causes are likely a blend of genetics and environmental or other unknown factors. About 10 to 20 percent of Parkinsons disease cases are linked to a genetic cause, says Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins. The types are either autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive .

But that leaves the majority of Parkinsons cases as idiopathic, which means unknown. We think its probably a combination of environmental exposure to toxins or pesticides and your genetic makeup, says Dawson.

Age. The biggest risk factor for developing Parkinsons is advancing age. The average age of onset is 60.

Gender. Men are more likely to develop Parkinsons disease than women.

Genetics. Individuals with a parent or sibling who is affected have approximately two times the chance of developing Parkinsons. Theres been an enormous amount of new information about genetics and new genes identified over the past 10 or 15 years that have opened up a greater understanding of the disease, says Dawson.

Black Americans And Parkinsons Disease

Most research suggests that Parkinsons disease is more likely to affect whites and Hispanics.

But, some studies have shown that Black patients may be less likely to receive proper care for the disease. 

A review published in 2018 in  found there are racial disparities when it comes to managing Parkinsons disease.

Researchers identified one study that showed Black patients were 4 times less likely than whites to be started on treatment for Parkinsons.

Another study found an average seven-year delay in diagnosis among Black patients.

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