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What are Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 May 2018
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Parkinson’s Disease is a condition that causes degeneration of the central nervous system over time. It is most common in the elderly, but can also affect young adults. Michael J. Fox has been a spokesperson for promoting a cure of Parkinson’s disease for the past several years. His disclosure of his own diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is doing much toward increasing exposure.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be considered as either early or late symptoms. Early symptoms include tremors, usually affecting the hands, the feet and the legs. The jaw and face may also show signs of tremor. Both the limbs and the mid-body may feel stiff or rigid, impairing movement.

Movement is also slowed in Parkinson’s disease, causing people to move slowly or with deliberation. Walking and moving can also be affected by poor balance and lack of coordination. This lack of coordination, accompanied by tremors can result in falls, which can particularly affect the elderly who may also suffer from osteoporosis and be more prone to break fragile bones after slight falls.

As Parkinson’s disease begins to move into late symptoms, most find that the four symptoms above worsen. In particular, tremors can become extremely pronounced, making most ordinary tasks like eating, brushing the teeth, operating a remote control, or washing dishes particularly difficult.

Late symptoms may also include facial tics that worsen, causing one to blink, sway the head, or stare. Some seem to lack any emotional depth when they speak because they can no longer control the facial expressions which give emphasis to speech. Speech itself may also become monotonous, or the voice may be very soft. Difficulty producing speech may cause the person with Parkinson’s disease to feel very isolated from others.

Swallowing may become difficult, though this usually is not bad enough to require feeding with a nasal-gastric (NG) tube. In late stages many with Parkinson’s still vie for their independence in things like self-feeding, since this is one thing that can remain under their control.

Late stage Parkinson’s disease may also cause dementia, but this is not always the case. Some who have Parkinson’s may also suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Usually Parkinson’s disease dementia is identified by a slow-down in the thinking process. The patient may be able to remember something, but it may take a while to remember.

Sleep problems in late Parkinson’s disease may cause slowed brain function, and certainly doesn’t aid those affected. As well, the digestive system works slowly which can result in painful constipation. Parkinson’s Disease can also affect sexual desire and libido.

About half of those affected by Parkinson’s disease will also become significantly depressed. Most would assume depression is based on struggling with the physical symptoms. Actually, most doctors believe the depression is a chemical condition caused by the deterioration of certain parts of the brain. As such, treatment with anti-depressants may be helpful.

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pinkandred
Post 3

They used to say that if you had Parkinson's that you could not have Alzheimer's. Now they are saying you can have both. I wonder what changed their minds?

Vaclav
Post 2

My grandpa had Parkinson's. You never knew how he would be from one day to the next. One day he would seem to be a little better, the next day very very slow. You would think they would have a cure by now for this disease.

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