8 Parkinson's Warning Signs

Parkinson's disease symptoms include tremors and difficulty walking. Early indicators of the disease, which might arise a decade or more before actual symptoms, are commonly misdiagnosed.
8 Parkinson's Warning Signs

Parkinson's disease symptoms include tremors and difficulty walking. Early indicators of the disease, which might arise a decade or more before actual symptoms, are commonly misdiagnosed. They can be confused with aging.

Sleeping troubles, constipation, and muscle stiffness, as well as loss of smell, anxiety, and depression, are all signs of early-stage Parkinson's. These conditions are typical in seniors. Having them doesn't guarantee you have Parkinson's, but you should tell your doctor if you have several at once.

Early symptoms don't usually send people to the doctor, says Michele Tagliati, M.D., director of the Movement Disorders Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Because Parkinson's, a neurological disorder, causes alterations long before a tremor shows. Lifestyle adjustments can assist control Parkinson's, and an early diagnosis can aid in planning. Eight things to check.

1. Insomnia

Parkinson's early warning signs include talking in your sleep, sleep walking, and acting out your dreams. “We should be absolutely paralyzed” while sleeping, explains Tagliati. Parkinson's affects the "brain circuitry that governs this sleep phase."

A 2014 study indicated that 33% of REM sleep problem patients had a neurodegenerative illness within five years. After 14 years, it was 91%.

Bed-hopping is a sign of this condition. If you live with others, they'll see you acting out your dreams. People may kick, punch, or jump out of bed while sleeping. If you live alone, you may wake up with twisted sheets or yelling, says Camilla Kilbane, M.D., of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

2. Loss of smell

Tagliati says researchers aren't sure why it's linked to Parkinson's, but it is, with this symptom showing in 90% of early-stage cases.

Like sleep problems, scent troubles are easy to blame on allergies, a sinus infection, a past COVID infection, or age. Loss of smell shouldn't be disregarded, especially with associated symptoms.

3. Constipation

Parkinson's affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls body activities like urinating. Parkinson's may also disrupt the gut microbiota, which influences how your digestion system works — or doesn't.

Parkinson's affects GI systems differently. Changes in bowel movements or digestion, such as bloating, nausea, or overall discomfort, could be early warning signs. A third of U.S. individuals over 60 report constipation, according to the National Institutes of Health, so mention it to your doctor but don't panic.

4. Depression/anxiety

It impairs serotonin and dopamine production, two mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitter changes cause anxiety and depression. Parkinson's Foundation: Depression or anxiety might last two to five years before diagnosis.

Kilbane said Parkinson's-induced mood disturbance isn't usually severe. When a generally joyful individual starts to worry, a spouse or family member may notice.

“It's so mild that individuals may not go to the doctor,” she says, especially given the pandemic's stress.

5. Quiet voice

89 percent of Parkinson's patients suffer speech and voice impairments, citing the Parkinson's Foundation. People may speak softer, even if they don't recognize it, adds Kilbane. A spouse, friend, or family member must regularly ask the person to speak up or repeat himself.

6. 'Poker Face'

Parkinson's affects the face as well, since its muscles gradually stiffen. Parkinson's causes "reduced facial imitation and less spontaneous smiling," adds Kilbane.

People may think you're angry or disturbed since your good emotions may not translate into a grin.

7. Stiffness/gait issues

Parkinson's patients often mistake stiffness and gait issues for aging, adds Kilbane. As you age, you may slow down, be stiffer, and shuffle, she explains.

Parkinson's stiffness might be confused for arthritis, but it appears in the muscles. Without medical guidance, it's hard to tell, she says. Gait difficulties can begin with difficulty keeping up with classmates on a walk or with everyday chores like getting in and out of a car, which can be attributed to aging. But both are indications of Parkinson's.

8. Resting Shakes

Tagliati says hand, foot, or leg tremors are common early visual signs of Parkinson's. When Parkinson's affects muscles, most people have already had sleep, smell, and gastrointestinal problems for years.

Movements occur while a limb is at rest on one side of the body, not always the dominant side. When he uses his hand, the tremor disappears. "Many put hand in pocket, but nothing happens." Chin tremors are prevalent and should be explored.