As we age, we notice little things about our body that is different. We start to wonder if these differences mean anything as far as chronic conditions or diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. When should we become concerned? When should we make a doctor’s appointment? As in most chronic diseases knowing the warning signs of the disease and getting an early diagnosis can make a difference in the quality of life we can expect.
It is unfortunate that the first signs of Parkinson’s disease are not visible to individuals until a good 80% of the neurons have been destroyed in the brain. Therefore the first signs that a person detects will mean that the disease has already progressed into the late stage of the disease. This is not all bad news though because when you notice those first signs of the disease and see a doctor, getting the diagnosis will still give you early treatment and those who do get treatment will still enjoy a better quality of life than if they had waited.
The first signs:
Tremors are typically the first signs that individuals will notice. The tremors can start in hands and feet and then they progress to the neck, head or in any of the limbs of the body. As you may know, other diseases can also have tremors as a sign of the disease too, so how do you distinguish the tremors that can be associated with Parkinson’s from other diseases?
If the tremor disappears when the affected body part is moved than the tremors are more than likely to be associated with Parkinson’s disease. In any case, if you notice tremors you should schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately to discover what is causing the tremors to occur.
Rigidity is another warning sign of Parkinson’s disease. Rigidity occurs in the human body when extensive muscle tone exists and the muscle becomes stiff.
Another warning sign of Parkinson’s disease is poor balance and poor coordination, which is caused by the tightness of the muscles as well as the uncontrollable tremors in the extremities. When an individual suffers from poor balance and poor coordination the individual may experience dropping of objects or may not be able to grasp objects properly in the hands when trying to pick up an object.
Lastly, another warning sign of Parkinson’s disease is difficulty moving or getting up or you may have difficulty changing directions while walking. When you observe someone walking with Parkinson’s disease, you will notice that they take short, shuffle-like steps, may stumble while walking and have difficulty making a directional change as they are walking. There is no fluidity to the flow or gait of the walk.
All of these warning signs are an advance warning that you may have Parkinson’s disease and it is best that you see a doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis so that treatment can begin.