Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over the years. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are usually mild at first and begin to develop gradually over time. The order and severity in which these occur all differ depending on the individual suffering from the disease. 

Although there are several different signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s, it is very rare that a person would experience all of the symptoms listed within this post. 

Main Parkinson’s Symptoms

The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are as follows – all of which directly impact the body’s physical movement:

Tremors

The most common Parkinson’s sign. Tremors usually entail general shaking, which often begins in the arm or hand when relaxing or resting the limb. 

Slowed Movement (Bradykinesia)

Physical movements begin to become much slower than normal, which can increase the difficulty of everyday tasks. This can result in a distinctive, slow, shuffling walk using only small steps. 

Muscle Stiffness

Also known as rigidity. Stiffness and tension occurs in the muscles making it difficult to move around and make facial expressions. This symptom can also result in painful muscle cramps known as Dystonia.

Other Parkinson’s Symptoms

There can be several other Parkinson’s signs and symptoms that affect both mental and physical cognition in those who have been diagnosed. Here, the symptoms can be divided into physical and psychiatric categories.

Physical Parkinson’s Symptoms

Impaired Posture and Balance Problems

This increases the likelihood of someone with the condition falling or injuring themselves.

Loss of Sense of Smell

An early Parkinson’s sign. Loss of smell can often occur several years before other symptoms develop – also known as Anosmia. You may face difficulty identifying certain odours or the difference between odours.

Nerve Pain

Can cause unpleasant sensations throughout the body – such as burning, coldness or numbness.

Loss of Automatic Movements

You may have a lesser ability to perform unconscious movements – including blinking, smiling, or swinging the arms when walking.

Speech Changes

A sufferer may become more monotone during speech. This can lead to speaking softer, possibly slurring or complete hesitation to talk.

Excessive Sweating and Saliva Production

Excessive sweating is a common Parkinson’s symptom known as Hyperhidrosis. Additionally, the same applies to excessive saliva production (or drooling).

Writing Changes

It may become gradually harder to write words onto paper as control of the hands becomes less apparent.

Swallowing, Chewing and Eating Problems

The body can often become malnourished and dehydrated from facing Dysphagia difficulties.

Sleep and Fatigue Problems

A common Parkinson’s symptom can be insomnia during the nighttime that causes excessive sleepiness and fatigue throughout the day.

Dizziness, Blurred Vision or Fainting

This usually occurs when moving from a lying or seated to a standing position that causes a sudden drop in blood pressure – also known as Orthostatic hypotension. 

Bladder and Constipation Problems

Urinary incontinence can be a Parkinson’s symptom as it increases the frequency of needing the toilet. Extreme cases can cause unintentional peeing. The same applies in terms of constipation.

Sexual Dysfunction

Men may find it more difficult to obtain or sustain an erection. Whilst women may find difficulty in becoming aroused or achieving an orgasm.

Cognitive and Psychiatric Parkinson’s Symptoms

Thinking Difficulties

Cognitive problems will begin to occur for a sufferer of Parkinson’s, particularly in the latter stages of the disease. It will become harder to plan and organise activities and memory problems may occur.

Emotional Changes (depression)

Depression and anxiety can settle into Parkinson’s sufferers. Treatment for depression can help reduce the impact of other challenges from Parkinson’s symptoms. Fear and loss of motivation are also common emotional changes.

Dementia

A group of Parkinson’s symptoms that include more severe memory problems – personality changes, visual hallucinations and delusions are the most common signs of dementia.

What are the early signs of Parkinson’s?

Tremor

The most recognisable early sign of Parkinson’s disease. Often begins with a slight twitching or shaking of the finger, hand or foot. The shaking gradually worsens and becomes noticeable by others.

Small Handwriting

Sudden changes in the size of your handwriting may be an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease. The medical term for this symptom is known as micrographia – handwriting becomes cramped, smaller and closely spaced.

Masking

Difficulty controlling facial muscles to make natural expressions. Often results in a very serious look even during lighthearted conversation. 

Sleep problems 

Early signs of the disease can include uncontrollable movements on a regular basis during the night. This can be kicking, flailing the arms and even falling out of bed.

Slow movement

Stiffness of the limbs and slow movement appear early on with Parkinson’s disease as they are caused by the impairment of movement controlling neurons.

Voice changes

Parkinson’s affects movement in different ways, including how you speak. Enunciation will likely remain clear at an early stage, however, you might speak in a low tone in a softer and quieter manner.

What to do next?

If you are concerned that you may be suffering from any of these potential Parkinson’s signs, then we recommend seeing a GP as soon as possible. The GP can then decide whether you should be referred to a specialist for further tests.  You can find your closest GP service here.

If you need any more advice surrounding Parkinson’s symptoms and potential methods of care, then please contact us today and a member of our customer service team will be happy to help. Call us on 0203 9182 2790.