Parkinson&'s disease is a movement disorder. It affects the nervous system, and symptoms become worse over time. The symptoms of Parkinson&'s disease develop gradually. They often start with a slight tremor in one hand and a feeling of stiffness in the body. Over time, other symptoms develop and some people will have dementia. Most of the symptoms result from a fall in dopamine levels in the brain. In most people, symptoms appear at the age of 60 years or over. However, in 5-10 percent of cases, they appear earlier. When Parkinson&'s disease develops before the age of 50 years, this is called "early onset" Parkinson&'s disease.
The early signs of Parkinson's disease include;
* Movement: There may be a tremor in the hands.
* Coordination: A reduced sense of coordination and balance can cause
people to drop items they are holding. They may be more likely to fall.
* Gait: The person's posture may change, so that they lean forward slightly,
as if they were hurrying. They may also develop a shuffling gait.
* Facial expression: This can become fixed, due to changes in the nerves
that control facial muscles.
* Voice: There may be a tremor in the voice, or the person may speak
more softly than before.
* Handwriting: This may become more cramped and smaller.
* Sense of smell: A loss of sense of smell can be an early sign.
* Sleep problems: These are a feature of Parkinson's, and they may be an
early sign. Restless legs may contribute to this.
Other common symptoms include:
* Mood changes, including depression.
* Difficulty chewing and swallowing.
* Problems with urination.
* Skin problems.
* Sleep problems.
The first step to living well with Parkinson’s disease is to understand the disease and the progression. It is possible to have a good to great quality of life with PD. Working with your doctor and following recommended therapies are essential in successfully treating the symptoms.