Did you know that April is Parkinson's Awareness Month? This is a time to be conscious of the disease and aware of the early signs and symptoms.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell if your loved one has Parkinson's disease. In the early stages, symptoms can be so subtle that they actually go unnoticed, which can leave the disease undiagnosed for a long period of time, according to Everyday Health.
There is no single defining symptom of Parkinson's, but rather a combination of warning signs that signify one may have the disease. Each person living with Parkinson's experiences different symptoms, which may make the diagnosis process extremely confusing. However, a combination of any of these five common warning signs may clarify your belief that your loved one is experiencing the early stages of Parkinson's.
1. Tremors or shaking
According to the National Parkinson's Foundation, constant twitching or shaking of the limbs may be an early sign of Parkinson's disease. If you've noticed that your loved one has a slight shake or tremor in his hands, chin or lip, and his legs are constantly twitching while he's relaxing, he may be experiencing the early stages of the disease.
2. Small handwriting
Did you know that a sudden change in handwriting is often a sign of Parkinson's disease? If you've noticed that your loved one is writing words on a page much smaller and more crowded together than he used to, he may be experiencing the early stages.
3. Loss of smell
If your loved one can't quite smell the delicious cookies baking in the oven or the fresh flowers you picked from the garden, he may be experiencing the early stages of Parkinson's. According to Everyday Health, loss of smell is one of the earliest signs of the disease and usually appears years before other motor or cognitive symptoms begin to develop.
4. Difficulty sleeping
Has your loved one been complaining to you about his lack of sleep? If he has been experiencing sudden movements while he's sleeping - such as kicking and punching or falling out of bed - that make it hard for him to rest, he may be developing Parkinson's disease. The source stated that many patient's living with Parkinson's often report having extreme vivid dreams or waking themselves up due to involuntary movement. This is a common sign that often foreshadows the disease's diagnosis.
5. Complications with moving
Does your loved one often feel stiff in the body, particularly in the arm or legs? If the stiffness does not go away when he gets up to move, the National Parkinson's Foundation said it may be an early sign of the disease. Another early symptom might be stiffness and pain in the shoulders and hips, making it extremely difficult to get up and move around. If you've noticed your loved one's arms don't swing as he walks, or he just looks plain stiff, he may be experiencing the early stages of Parkinson's.
Everyday Health explained other signs that may combine with the common symptoms to signify Parkinson's disease. They include:
- Masked face - When facial expressions seem nonexistent, even if your loved one is expressing his feelings.
- Hunching over - When he's constantly stooping, leaning or slouching.
- A calmer voice - If his voice seems a loft softer than usual - this is called hypophonia.
- Constant dizziness - When he feels dizzy on a normal basis, he may have low blood pressure, which may be linked to Parkinson's disease.
- Depression - When he's feeling anxious or depressed more often - sometimes, the symptoms of depression can be so mild than they go unnoticed.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living