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How to Spot the Early Signs of Parkinson Disease

January 10, 2019

It is estimated that Parkinson disease (PD) affects around 1% of patients aged 65 years and older. Oftentimes, however, symptoms of PD develop slowly making the disease very difficult to diagnose.

In the early stages of PD, symptoms are subtler and more sporadic. However, there are 13 signs that can help care professionals identify the disease in its early stages. 

The 13 signs include:

  • tremors;
  • difficulty walking;
  • cramped or small handwriting;
  • loss of smell;
  • sleep problems;
  • poor balance;
  • bradykinesia;
  • facial masking;
  • voice changes;
  • stooping or hunched posture;
  • constipation;
  • psychological symptoms; and
  • weight loss.

Of these signs, tremors are often considered a key characteristic of PD. Tremors, like most early signs of PD, begin very subtly, and typically the person experiencing the tremors is the only one who notices them. Tremors are typically on one side of the body when they first start and then spread to other parts of the body as the disease progresses.

Although these signs are not always directly related to PD, patients over 60 are at an increased risk and should seek care if these symptoms arise.

The earlier these signs and symptoms are recognized, the earlier treatment can be initiated. The result of early treatment among patients with PD is improved overall quality of life.

Julie Gould

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