10 Early Warning Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that affects your ability to control movement, and symptoms worsen over time. Untreated Parkinson’s can even lead to an early death.
But the earlier you can get a diagnosis, the quicker you and your doctor can begin a treatment plan. With an early diagnosis and a doctor-approved exercise regimen, you can actually delay the onset of further symptoms.
How, though, will you know when you need to go to the doctor in the first place? It’s all about detecting warning signs. Here, then, are the 10 biggest early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease.
1. Smaller handwriting
Some of these warning signs are more subtle than others. For example, an unexpected PD warning sign is that your handwriting is getting smaller!
That’s because Parkinson’s can result in “micrographia.” It makes you write smaller letters and crowd words together. So if your handwriting is looking smaller than it used to, take this warning sign seriously!
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2. Unexpected tremors
A more obvious warning sign is unexpected tremors. Those with Parkinson’s disease experience unexpected tremors in areas such as hands, fingers, thumbs, and even the chin.
Keep in mind that “unexpected” is a keyword here. Many things can temporarily make your body tremble, including everything from exercise to injuries to stress. But tremors happening for no apparent reason is a major PD warning sign.
3. Moving in bed while sleeping
Difficulty sleeping is another Parkinson’s warning sign. Don’t worry: simply having trouble falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night is relatively normal (albeit annoying). But those with Parkinson’s often thrash around, making sudden movements even while they are sleeping.
This is easiest to detect if you share a bed with a partner. If you are moving around enough that it makes them want to move to another bed just to get some sleep, you may have Parkinson’s disease.
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4. Loss of smell
There are many things that can temporarily cause you to lose your sense of smell. And these things range from the common cold all the way to COVID-19.
However, those with Parkinson’s disease may have trouble smelling certain foods. These foods include licorice, bananas, and dill pickles. So if you are experiencing a very selective loss of smell, it’s important to go to your doctor right away.
Constipation can be a warning sign of Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, you may experience constipation for other reasons, including side effects of medicines and a lack of enough fiber and water in your diet.
However, if you are getting plenty of fiber and water and not taking any medication that can cause constipation, then PD may be the cause. Your doctor can help you isolate whether the constipation is due to Parkinson’s or something else entirely.
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6. Difficulty walking and moving
Parkinson’s disease can stiffen your joints and make it harder to walk and move around. Your arms may not swing as much when you walk, and your feet may be much harder to move (as if you are stuck to the floor).
Of course, stiff joints may be a result of other conditions such as arthritis. But if you don’t have arthritis and start having difficulty walking and moving, then Parkinson’s may be the culprit.
7. Facial masking
Do people comment on your face always looking angry, depressed, or serious? Even when you aren’t experiencing such emotions? Believe it or not, this is another PD warning sign!
That’s because Parkinson’s can lead to “facial masking.” This is when your face seems “stuck” in a way that doesn’t match your actual mood. Certain medications can cause this to happen as well. But if you aren’t on any such medications, then treat facial masking as a major PD warning sign.
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8. A softer voice
Sometimes, Parkinson’s warning signs won’t be written on your face. Instead, they may be coming directly from your voice!
Those with Parkinson’s often speak more softly than they once did, and their voices may now be in a lower register. Pay close attention if friends and family comment on your voice sounding different.
Also, pay close attention if others have trouble hearing what you are saying. It may not be that they are hard of hearing… you may just be speaking that much softer than before!
9. Hunching over
In addition to affecting how you move and walk, Parkinson’s can also affect your posture. Specifically, those with PD often look like they are hunched over or stooping when they stand up.
This is another warning sign that you may not detect on your own. Instead, friends and family may comment on your sudden change in posture. Unless you have an injury or other condition causing you to hunch over like this, then you may very well have Parkinson’s.
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10. Dizziness and/or fainting
Speaking of standing up, do you suddenly feel dizzy when you stand up? Parkinson’s can cause these feelings of dizziness and may even cause you to unexpectedly faint.
If you just feel dizzy when standing very occasionally, that is normal. But if you regularly feel dizzy when getting up from a chair, then you may have Parkinson’s disease.
If you are experiencing any of the 10 symptoms above, talk to your doctor. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, early detection is key and symptoms can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes.