Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder. Generally, sufferers lose control over their range of motion which gets worse over time. The good news is that Parkinson’s can be managed and many people live with it for decades in Manhattan and elsewhere. It is important to be on the lookout for Parkinson’s disease signs and symptoms for early intervention.
Parkinson’s generally affects the brain’s neurons. The neurons malfunction and die and when they die, the amount of dopamine—a chemical that sends signals to the brain to control movement—decreases. The progressive death of neurons means that less and less dopamine gets sent to the brain, which is why symptoms get progressively worse over time.
Long before the classic symptoms of tremors and gait instability appear, PD might be diagnosable allowing for the possibility for earlier intervention and amelioration of the disease.
Symptoms can vary from person to person and can appear up to five years in advance. Common symptoms include the following:
- Tremor of hands, legs, arms, jaw and face
- Balance problems
- Loss of coordination
- Slowness of movement
- Stiff limbs
- Low blood pressure
- Erectile & urinary dysfunction
- Speech problems
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Freeze attacks
There can also be pre-diagnostic symptoms:
- Research has found that REM sleep behavior disorder is one of the strongest indicators for PD
- Loss of the sense of smell
- Minor changes in cognitive ability.
For a diagnosis, doctors generally look for at least four motor symptoms.
If you or someone you know has any of the above Parkinson’s disease signs and symptoms, it might be worth a visit to the doctor.
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