10 Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms To Watch Out For

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Parkinson’s most often goes undetected for years in a large number of people. In the elderly, Parkinson’s Disease symptoms are usually attributed to the ageing process. While in the younger age group, people think they’re too young to have Parkinson’s. Here’s an expert guide on 10 Parkinson’s Disease symptoms to watch out for.

Although there hasn’t been a single symptom which if detected, can be used to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease, there are a few obvious and not so obvious signs and symptoms which could indicate Parkinson’s disease.

First, the obvious signs – these signs are visible to the naked eye and are usually the reason people would first go to consult a doctor.

1. Tremor – It is a repetitive shaking that may occur in the hand, leg, head or jaw. The Parkinson’s tremor usually occurs when you’re not using that body part, i.e., when the part is at rest. For example, if you’re sitting to watch TV and your hand placed on your lap starts to shake but the minute you lift it up it stops shaking. Then it could be a Parkinson’s tremor.
2. Slowness and heaviness in one limb
3. Dizziness – Dizziness occurring when standing up from a chair or after lying down for a while is known as orthostatic hypotension. This can be linked to Parkinson’s disease.
4. Change in walking style – Most people are able to feel or notice a change in the way they walk. Most often though they aren’t able to pinpoint what has changed. Some of the changes that occur with Parkinson’s are walking much slower, shuffling of the feet while walking, dragging of one leg, loss of arm swing on one or both sides. You may even notice the person bending forwards or leaning to one side while walking.
5. Change in handwriting – In Parkinson’s this symptom is called Micrographia. As one writes, the size of the letters become progressively smaller until it’s almost illegible. Some people may have difficulty signing and thus have cheques rejected.
6. Change in speech – sometimes people with PD notice a change in the volume of their voice while some people feel that they can no longer pronounce all their words clearly.

Next, come the not so obvious signs – these are considered to be pre-clinical or present even years before the actual diagnosis.

7. Loss of smell – this is considered to be one of the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s. This loss of smell can also affect the taste of food.
8. Sleep disorder – REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep disorder is seen in PD. When asleep a person may “act out” dreams, talk or thrash out, sometimes even becoming violent. This is different from tossing and turning in bed.
9. Depression & Anxiety – Bouts of sadness or of “feeling low” and anxious which you’ve not experienced before could be a sign of PD.
10. Constipation – Researchers say that difficulty with bowel movements could be an early sign of Parkinson’s.

What to do if you or a loved one has one or more of these symptoms: Do not panic. These symptoms occur in a variety of conditions and may not necessarily be Parkinson’s. You should consult a Neurologist or a Movement Disorder Specialist for an evaluation.

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About Author

Dr Nicole DSouza

Dr Nicole D’souza, MPT (Neurology), MIAP, is a Neurophysiotherapist and Head of Therapy and Research at the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Society, Mumbai. She's also an expert listed on our website.