Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a disorder of the nervous system. It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain, which is responsible for regulating movements. It is estimated that more than 10 million people are living with Parkinson’s disease all over the world. Men are 1.5 times more at risk of suffering from the disease than women. The incidence of Parkinson’s disease increases with age. About 4% of the population suffers from the disorder at the age of 50 or more. Signs of Parkinson’s disease generally develop slowly over the years. The signs are usually minute and go unnoticed. Small changes in movements and behavior can be a signal for the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Generally, the signs of Parkinson’s disease are tremors and slow, rigid movements. Early diagnosis and treatment can help with less disability and a longer lifespan.
What are the early signs of Parkinson’s disease?
The following are the early signs of Parkinson’s disease: If you notice more than one sign, you should consult your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. Early treatment can help in improving the quality of life.
Many healthcare providers consider tremors to be one of the early key signs of Parkinson’s disease. Tremors are continuous shaking or twitching of the fingers, thumb, hand, legs, or chin. In Parkinson’s disease, tremors are termed “rest tremors,” as they stop when the affected body part is in use. In the beginning, they are usually small but increase as the disease progresses. Tremors start on one side of the body and later spread to the other parts as well.
Under normal circumstances, the shaking can also be due to stress, injury, or excessive exercise. Some medicines may also cause shaking.
SHRINK OF HANDWRITING
The early sign of Parkinson’s disease may be the shrinking of your handwriting. The words become smaller and more crowded in comparison to the previous years of your handwriting. A change in the sign may be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease called micrographia. Doctors associate micrographia with nervous system disorders or neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s.
Under normal conditions, your handwriting may change as age progresses or it may be due to poor vision or stiffness in your hands or fingers.
Loss of smell
Loss of smell or hyposmia can be one of the very early signs of Parkinson’s disease that is not related to movements. It may appear a few years before the onset of other signs related to the movements pertaining to the disease. Loss of smell affects about 70% to 90% of people with Parkinson’s. A person with hyposmia as an early sign of Parkinson’s has:
- difficulty identifying different odors.
- a weaker sense of smell.
- difficulty in odor detection
- Inability to distinguish the difference between different odors
Having hyposmia does not always indicate that a person is heading towards Parkinson’s disease. The sense of smell can change for other reasons also, like colds, flu, stuffy nose, smoking, harsh chemicals, or aging. Hyposmia may also be due to other health conditions like Huntington’s disease or Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia).
Parkinson’s disease may affect your sleep adversely. People with Parkinson’s may thrash around in bed in deep sleep. Sudden movements during sleep can be one of the early signs of Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes, people may find it difficult to sleep or toss around in bed under normal conditions. There may be jerks during early sleep as well. People with Parkinson’s may have the following sleep-related problems:
- Lack of sleep (insomnia).
- Daytime fatigue
- The tendency to fall asleep in relaxing surroundings (narcolepsy).
- sleep apnea
- uncontrolled movements while sleeping.
Difficulty in walking, balancing, or moving
Minute changes in the walking style may be the early signs of Parkinson’s. People with Parkinson’s disease may get slower while walking. They may drag their feet or have shorter stride lengths. There may be stiffness in the arms, legs, or body that does not go away as you move. Some of the following changes in the walking pattern can be observed:
- Steps get smaller, and multiple steps are required to cover the distance.
- There is no swinging of the arms during walking.
- tripping of feet due to small turning of one foot inward or outward direction.
- One arm may bend inward.
Bradykinesia: Bradykinesia is the slowness of movement and speed ( or progressive hesitations/halts) as movements are continued. It causes stiffness in the limbs, slower movements, and sometimes difficulty in starting a movement. It is one of the early signs of Parkinson’s disease.
The other causes of slower movements may also be injury or arthritis. Generally, stiffness in the arms, legs, or body diminishes as you start moving.
There may be a poor balance in the body. As Parkinson’s disease causes damage to nerve cells called basal ganglia, which reside deep in the brain and are responsible for controlling balance and flexibility,
Constipation is a common health issue and is due to various causes. In Parkinson’s disease, constipation can be one of the early nonmotor signs (nonmotor-not related to movement). Approximately 25% of people had constipation as an early sign before they develop motor symptoms. <= For details, click here.
Constipation may be caused by a diet that is devoid of the required quantity of fiber. or due to not drinking optimum water (approximately 3.7 liters of fluid intake by men or 2.7 liters of fluid for women). It may also be caused by certain medications like painkillers, iron supplements, antidepressants, etc. If the above is not the cause, it is advisable to contact your healthcare provider.
Vocal changes are one of the early signs of Parkinson’s disease. There may be changes in the volume and quality of your voice. Your voice may become softer than you used to talk. Or your voice may become monotonous. You may lose the usual variations in your tone and volume.
Your voice may change in the case of a cold or throat infection. But it becomes normal once the infection is over.
Facial expressions require very minute and complex muscle movements. Facial expressions are related to bradykinesia. One of the early signs of Parkinson’s disease is the reduced ability to make facial expressions. The reduced ability to make facial expressions is called facial masking. People with facial masking may appear emotionless or blank. although their ability to feel emotions is not impacted. Sometimes the ability to blink your eyes also gets slower. Thus, people with facial masking find it difficult to communicate with others as changes in facial expressions are less noticeable.
Consult your healthcare provider in case you experience a serious, depressed, or mad-looking face along with being in a good mood. Some medicines may cause starring looks and serious or depressed moods. But they go away when such medications are discontinued.
Stooping or hunching over
People with Parkinson’s disease may have rigidity in their muscles. As a result, their posture may be altered. They may start bending forward, making them appear hunched or stooped.
Psychological well-being is greatly impacted during the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Mood and behavior are impacted due to the lowering of normal dopamine levels due to disease. Some psychological changes that may appear with Parkinson’s disease are:
- psychosis (a mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality).
- reduced problem-solving capabilities
- There is difficulty in staying organized or making plans.
What can be done if you observe early signs of Parkinson’s disease?
In the early stages, it is difficult to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. As the symptoms are very minute and unpredictable, the progress of the disease varies from person to person. However, knowing the early signs of Parkinson’s disease and seeking medical advice at an early stage plays a vital role in the better management of the disease. The presence of the above signs does not always indicate that you have P.D. However, people over the age of 60 should consult their healthcare advisor on noticing the above signs, which may help them lead a better life.
A few suggestions
After Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia), Parkinson’s is the second most common disease, affecting people all over the globe. Today, many researchers and laboratories are regularly offering new drugs for treatment. But the number of people suffering has doubled in the last 25 years. Disability and death due to P.D. have increased at a faster pace.
Reduce early signs (tremors) of Parkinson’s disease naturally.
Adopting healthy lifestyle changes and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle may help slow down the progression of the disease. Lifestyle changes include eating more fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish and avoiding junk and sugary foods, as well as processed meat. It is also a good idea to exercise at least 30 minutes per day to maintain mobility and muscular strength.
Consume more seasonal and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Consuming more fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables may help you reduce early signs of Parkinson’s disease. At least 50% to 60% of your diet should contain fruits and vegetables because they provide all the necessary nutrients your body needs for healthy living. Vegetables and fruits are rich sources of phytonutrients, antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, amino acids, and fiber, and possess anti-inflammatory properties.
If you do not like eating fruits and vegetables, you can alternately drink freshly extracted fruit juice. But eating raw fruits and vegetables as a whole should be preferred. Chlorophyll present in green fruits and vegetables plays a vital role in improving your gut health and detoxifying your body.
Spirulina as a superfood may help in reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It may help in improving the lifespan and locomotor behavior of people with Parkinson’s disease.
Early diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease, followed by adopting healthy lifestyle changes and avoiding unhealthy eating habits play a vital role in better management of the disease.
5 healthy habits to lead a long disease-free life
For details click on the link below:
For treatment, consult your healthcare provider.
For awareness purposes only.
Please like, share, and subscribe.
For treatment and discount code at Ilaj Ayur Heritage Hospital, Kerala, India. Please contact at Whats app no- 91-8447882302.
Blogger & Marketing Consultant
40+ Years of experience in the healthcare industry.