Most People Aren’t Aware of These Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease is one of many diseases scientists haven’t found a cure for yet. Similar to conditions such as dementia, it progresses gradually over time, turning once mild, almost unnoticeable symptoms into life-altering ailments.

Here’s what you need to know about its symptoms — and why doctors can’t make it go away once you’ve been diagnosed.

Parkinson’s disease symptoms

Elderly couple

Elderly couple | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

When attempting to diagnose diseases, doctors typically use a list of possible symptoms as a means of determining whether or not someone might be sick. But just because you might not experience a common symptom doesn’t mean you’re disease-free.

Possibly the best-known sign someone has Parkinson’s disease, for example, is the visible tremor that usually occurs in the hands or fingers. But this isn’t the only symptom that could signal you or someone you know might have a nervous system disorder.

Here are a few key symptoms you might not realize are linked to Parkinson’s.

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty writing
  • You’re having a hard time blinking or smiling
  • Slowed movement

Sometimes the disease affects movement not by causing tremors, but instead by making it hard to move, walk, write, or show what would be considered normal facial expressions. Unfortunately, when these things start happening, it means the disease has already begun to progress — and will continue to do so over time.

What does Parkinson’s treatment look like?

There isn’t a cure for Parkinson’s disease, the same way there’s no guaranteed way to prevent it. But doctors have developed a number of methods for treating symptoms. These methods can also improve quality of life, even as the condition progresses.

Some people living with the disease take medications to help improve their movement and walking abilities. Some drugs can also help people deal with tremors.

Many doctors also actually “prescribe” regular exercise because it can improve your symptoms and help you maintain balance, posture, and daily living activities. Ongoing physical therapy can also keep muscles as strong and mobile as possible.

A speech-language pathologist can work with those experiencing problems with speaking, helping them maintain their speech abilities for as long as possible.

In severe cases, doctors go as far as performing surgery in an attempt to stimulate certain areas of the brain with electricity.

Why isn’t there a cure?

Old couple with yoga mat

Old couple with yoga mat | LightFieldStudios/iStock/Getty Images

Parkinson’s disease develops when nerve cells in the brain start dying off. This causes the levels of a brain chemical called dopamine to decrease. Resulting abnormal brain activity is what causes key symptoms of the disease.

Unfortunately, once you lose neurons, you can’t get them back. That’s why there isn’t any known way to cure Parkinson’s disease. Yet.

Scientists are currently looking into the possibility of using stem cells to restore activity in the brains of those affected by the disease. But it could be years before this type of treatment became mainstream — if it turns out to be an effective way to cure it.

Until treatments improve and researchers conduct more studies and clinical trials, managing your symptoms is still your best option. If you’re trying to prevent the disease, leading a healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, etc.) is the only advice with any hope of keeping you and your brain well over time.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!