The Common Symptoms That Might Be Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s can affect anyone, especially in later years. Males are more likely to get the disease, but it’s important for both aging males and females to know the signs. The following symptoms could signal Parkinson’s disease. Be sure to get checked out if you have one common irritable symptom (page 9).

1. You can’t smell as well as you used to

Woman smelling green leaf

This symptom can be really sad to experience. | Source: iStock

A loss of smell is one of the most overlooked symptoms of Parkinson’s. And patients have reported it’s one of the first symptoms they notice. The connection between Parkinson’s and smell is not perfectly clear. Some experts think the area of the brain that controls smell is one of the first areas affected by the disease.

Next: No deodorant can help you with this symptom.

2. You start sweating excessively at odd times

Businessman sweating in his office

This uncomfortable symptom can be unnerving. | Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images

Once your nervous system is affected by Parkinson’s, your body will struggle to regulate basic functions. This can cause changes in your sweat glands, so you may find yourself sweating excessively for no good reason. Also called hyperhidrosis, uncontrollable sweating can be more than embarrassing when combined with other Parkinson’s symptoms.

Next: Don’t worry about this symptom unless it occurs again and again.

3. You experience dizziness or fainting

upset woman

Getting dizzy when you stand up can be normal or seriously concerning. | iStock.com/ Tom Merton

Everyone feels a little dizzy from time to time when they stand up quickly. But if it’s happening regularly you should take it seriously. Feeling dizzy can be “a sign of low blood pressure and can be linked to Parkinson’s,” according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. And if you experience consistent fainting spells on top of dizziness, you need to consult your doctor.

Next: No one wants their meals to be disrupted by this issue.

4. You have a hard time swallowing

Sore throat

If you can’t swallow properly anymore, you need to talk to your doctor. | Tharakorn/Getty Images

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can be a symptom of many health issues. However, if your brain’s swallowing center and the nerves connected to your esophagus aren’t working well, it can indicate Parkinson’s disease. And difficulty swallowing doesn’t just happen when you’re eating; it can occur when you’re simply processing saliva. Either way, keep an eye on this symptom.

Next: A rather embarrassing Parkinson’s symptom

5. Your posture worsens and your balance suffers

Elderly man walks

A change in posture can be pretty noticeable. | CreativaImages/Getty Images

If you’re suddenly stooping over or feel unstable while standing, you may need to consult a doctor. Parkinson’s can affect the reflexes responsible for proper posture when standing. As a result, those with Parkinson’s often lose their balance while standing or easily fall backward if pushed in any way. Muscle stiffness can also affect posture.

Next: Do friends and family often ask you to repeat yourself?

6. Your voice gets softer

Voice recognition.

Does Siri struggle to hear your requests? | AH86/Getty Images

Parkinson’s is often accompanied by speech issues. Those with Parkinson’s may notice their speech has gotten softer or others struggle to hear them even if they think they’re speaking normally. Forming words properly can also become a problem, and tone can become more monotonous. Any sign of a change in speech could signal a serious underlying medical problem, even if it isn’t Parkinson’s, so it’s important to see a doctor.

Next: You’ll need Head & Shoulders with this symptom.

7. You develop dandruff

Dandruff in hair

A dry, itchy scalp can be more than irritating. | :Manuel-F-O/Getty Images

Changes in your skin can occur with Parkinson’s disease, especially concerning oiliness and flaking. Also known as seborrheic dermatitis, the condition mainly affects your scalp, face, and chest, so you could suddenly experience a lot of dandruff. It can occur at any time during a Parkinson’s diagnosis, and it’s more likely to occur in men.

Next: You may think this indicates other digestive issues.

8. You feel constipated

Lady suffering from stomach ache

Constipation can mean a lot more than drinking more water. | Sasha_Suzi/iStock/Getty Images

Since Parkinson’s affects the body’s autonomic nervous system, constipation can be a sign of the disease. The autonomic nervous system controls digestion, which affects bowel movements. Constipation can be a sign of many other things, too. But if you’re experiencing constipation along with other symptoms on this list, it may be Parkinson’s.

Next: Get checked out if you have this common irritable symptom.

9. You notice tremors in your hands

Parkinson patient hand

One of the scariest symptoms | Ocskaymark/Getty Images

This may be the biggest sign of Parkinson’s. Tremors can happen to anyone at any age, and they don’t necessarily signal the disease. But if you notice tremors that never used to be present, it’s a strong sign something could be wrong. Tremors after exercise or when you’re feeling anxious are normal, but tremors in a relaxed state, along with other Parkinson’s symptoms, may be a reason for concern.

Next: Take a break from the keyboard and test your handwriting.

10. You notice a change in your handwriting

Take a break from the computer and try writing again. | iStock.com

Handwriting is almost a form of identity. People can distinguish one person from another based on the way they form their letters. But if you get older and notice your handwriting is different than it used to be or is getting worse, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s. With this disease, your written words typically get more crowded.

Next: You might not notice this, but those around you will. 

11. You move a bit slower than you used to

senior with painful arm during rehabilitation

This symptom is frustrating for everyone. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Since muscle stiffness often accompanies Parkinson’s, it results in slower overall movement. If your arms aren’t swinging, and it’s difficult to pick your feet up off the floor, you may start moving slower. Those around you may notice you look stiff and ask if something is wrong. It’s best to see your doctor if you notice your movements are different than they used to be.

Next: Counting sheep won’t fix this problem.

12. You toss and turn all night long

Senior woman sleeping on bed in bedroom at home

Insomnia can hurt every aspect of your life. | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

A change in sleeping habits can also be a sign you have Parkinson’s. If you were once a peaceful sleeper but now toss and turn at night, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Although trouble sleeping can be a sign of many other things, Parkinson’s isn’t something you want to overlook. It’s believed the disease affects the regions of the brain that control sleep habits, which leads to tossing and turning.

Next: We all take this aspect of our bodies for granted.

13. Automatic movements stop

Aged woman suffering from pain in knee

Muscle stiffness isn’t a laughing matter. | Maroke/iStock/Getty Images

When you walk, you naturally swing your arms. But with Parkinson’s, sometimes those “automatic” movements can stop. It usually is in direct relation to muscle stiffness. Picking up your legs when you walk is also a sign that something is wrong with your muscles. If you have a constant feeling of stiffness, it could be Parkinson’s.

Next: If this changes, it could be a sign of something serious. 

14. Your mood isn’t the same

Mature Man looking sad

Depression is a serious issue no matter what. | Highwaystarz-Photography/Getty Images

Parkinson’s is attributed to a lack of dopamine in the brain. Low levels of things like dopamine and serotonin are linked to depression. Sometimes, people become depressed after their diagnosis. But in other cases, the depression can begin years before any additional symptoms show up.

Next: Your chances of being diagnosed

15. You have about a 1 in 100 chance of being diagnosed

Medical experts studied the EEG condition of the patient

Doctor looking at x-rays | sudok1/Getty Images

About 1 in 100 people over the age of 60 are diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Research has indicated there are about one million people living with Parkinson’s in the United States. The disease is extremely rare for those younger than 60. But there are other diseases that express similar symptoms to Parkinson’s, so the disease can sometimes be misdiagnosed.

Next: Here’s what causes Parkinson’s. 

16. Parkinson’s is caused by low dopamine levels

Test tubes

Woman in a lab | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Parkinson’s can go hand-in-hand with depression because it is caused by low dopamine levels. It is a progressive nervous system disorder. The nerve cells that generate dopamine die, causing the overall dopamine level to fall drastically, which leads to the symptoms of the disease. Since dopamine is responsible for sending signals to the part of the brain that controls movement, tremors, muscle stiffness, and more are used to diagnose the disease.

Next: Here’s when you should see a doctor. 

17. Always see a doctor if you notice any abnormalities in your health

Visiting a doctor

Woman visiting the doctor | Nensuria/iStock/Getty Images

If you notice a change in your motor skills, movement, or mood, it’s important to see a doctor. The brain has everything to do with this, so regardless of whether it’s Parkinson’s, it is always best to get checked out if something seems wrong. If more than one symptom is apparent, definitely consult your doctor. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Next: What age is Parkinson’s diagnosed? 

18. Parkinson’s is typically diagnosed in late middle-age

Male doctor talking to patient

Man talking to a doctor | Seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

The most common age for diagnosis is around 60. But while 60 is the typical diagnosis age, everyone is different. Some people have symptoms as early as 40 — and sometimes even younger. Everyone’s case is different, so if you notice any symptoms, see a doctor no matter what.

Next: What is the life expectancy for someone with Parkinson’s? 

19. With proper treatment, life expectancy looks very good

Johns Hopkins Hospital Continues Cancer Research And Treatment

Doctors looking at x-rays | Win McNamee/Getty Images

If those with Parkinson’s receive proper treatment, their life expectancy is similar to those without the disease. The earlier it is detected, the better the treatment options. But one thing to note is that falls become extremely risky during later stages of the disease. Bones are more fragile, and falls are more common due to balance issues. According to Healthline, falls can lead to an earlier death because of injury complications.

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