Understanding the Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s

With a few well-known celebrities receiving the diagnosis, Parkinson's disease has received more media attention in recent years than it has in the past. Unfortunately, that coverage hasn't necessarily led to increased awareness of the subtle signs of the disease. Instead, it's known as the condition that causes tremors and motor skill problems. The truth is, there's more to Parkinson's disease, and the sooner you understand the early warning signs, the better. Here's a look at what you should know about Parkinson's disease and early detection.

Why Does Early Detection Matter?

By the time a patient exhibits the more widely known symptoms of Parkinson's disease, the condition has progressed significantly. This often means that the patient is beyond the point of early intervention. Since Parkinson's is a neurological condition, early intervention can sometimes help patients develop ways to adapt to the changes ahead more easily.

Additionally, it provides an opportunity for physical therapy and supportive care to potentially delay the onset of issues with gross motor skills. As the condition progresses, it can lead to a long-term need for supportive, in-home care before a transition to a residential care facility. While patients with Parkinson's can typically receive supportive care at most any stage, the later progressive stages of the condition can be debilitating, requiring more support than the early stages.

What Are Some Early Warning Signs?

Understanding some of the more subtle changes that occur early in the course of the condition may allow you to seek diagnosis and treatment earlier than you otherwise could. Here's a look at some of the things that you should watch for:

  • Reduced Sense of Smell – Your sense of smell is often one of the first things affected by the onset of Parkinson's disease. By itself, it could be an indication of sinus trouble or cognitive issues as well, so it's important to assess other symptoms before assuming that your difficulties with smell are due to Parkinson's.
  • Sleep Problems – Another common problem experienced early in Parkinson's development is random, extreme movements in your sleep. If your significant other is complaining about being kicked or hit at night, this could be why. The movements may be pronounced enough to cause you to fall out of bed. Parkinson's disease can also cause vivid dreams.
  • Tense Muscles – You may notice some uncontrollable muscle tightness causing aches and pains in your extremities. The muscle tightness is caused by the same reaction that ultimately leads to tremors.

Although these signs are subtle, if you're seeing more than one of them, you should consider talking with a neurological services and treatment specialist. The sooner you address it, the sooner you can get the in-home care that you need to continue leading a full and productive life.