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Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative disease of the nervous system which is caused by free radical damage to the basal brain ganglia that control muscle movement.   This depletes a chemical called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that carries messages from one nerve cell to another. In Parkinson’s disease, the cells in the brain that manufacture dopamine are damaged or dying, and hence the brain loses the ability to manufacture this chemical.  We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of Parkindon’s disease below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include:

Early symptoms of Parkinson’s include:

  • a mild to moderate tremor of the hand or hands while at rest
  • muscle stiffness
  • slowness of movement
  • a tendency to tire more easily than usual

Later symptoms include:

  • rigid muscles
  • loss of appetite
  • drooling
  • extreme fatigue
  • a stooped, shuffling gait
  • a staring facial expression
  • a “pill rolling” movement with the thumb and forefinger
  • impaired speech
  • constipation
  • eventually, the inability to perform most basic voluntary and involuntary movements

As well as the body becoming rigid and limbs stiffening, Parkinson’s can also lead to dementia.

Parkinson’s Disease is a devastating condition that affects as many as 1 in 100 persons over the age of sixty in the United States, and this prevalence is increasing dramatically.  Dopamine depletion causes muscle weakness, body rigidity and slowly spreading tremors.  Though cognitive function usually remains normal, the person feels frozen, unable to move.  As the disease progresses, posture becomes stooped, and involuntary movements become increasingly difficult.



Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease

There is no one test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease.  A diagnosis is based on symptoms, family history, and personal medical history.  Brain scans cannot diagnose Parkinson’s disease; however, they can help rule out other medical problems.  If Parkinson’s disease is suspected, a physician may order a trial of a Parkinson’s drug such as L-dopa, to see if there is any change in symptoms.  If there is relief from symptoms for even a few hours after taking a Parkinson’s drug, this will help confirm the diagnosis.


Books for People With Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease For Dummies
Michele Tagliati
Parkinson’s Disease: A Complete Guide for Patients and Families, Second Edition (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book)
William J. Weiner


What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM): Parkinson’s Disease: A Holistic Program for Optimal Wellness (What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About…)
Jill Marjama-Lyons
The Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Book: Partnering with Your Doctor to Get the Most from Your Medications
J. Eric Ahlskog

Parkinson’s Disease Resources

General Patient Resources

  • Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

A national nonprofit dedicated to Parkinson’s disease research, education and advocacy. PDF is working for the nearly one million people in the US who live with Parkinson’s disease.

http://www.pdf.org/

  • National Parkinson Foundation

If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s disease you are not alone. In the United States, 50,000-60,000 new cases of PD are diagnosed each year, adding to the one million people who currently have PD. In fact, it is estimated that four to six million people around the world suffer from the condition. There is hope, however, as scientists work towards a cure and make progress in identifying the best treatment options for patients. Learn more about PD now.

http://www.parkinson.org/parkinson-s-disease.aspx

  • Parkinson’s Disease Caregiver Information

Caregiver Help Forum – Learn the signs and symptoms of parkinsons disease, learn more about what causes parkinson s disease, find out more about Parkinsonism, learn more about stem cells and more.

http://www.myparkinsons.org/cgi-bin/forum/forum_show.pl

  • All About Parkinson’s .com

Parkinson’s Disease Forum – Where people with Parkinson’s and caregivers can get help, friendship and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

http://www.allaboutparkinsons.com/forum/



Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes, treatment of this progressive movement disorder.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/parkinsons-disease/DS00295

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/parkinsonsdisease.html

  • Pub Med Health

Reviews causes, risk factors, symptoms, treatment, prognosis and complications.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001762/