Early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease gives you the best chance of a longer, healthier life. Parkinson's disease is when your brain stops making an important chemical called dopamine. This chemical helps control movement, and helps your mood. Parkinson's disease is a progressive disease that will get worse slowly over time. The cause is unknown, and currently there is no cure, but there are treatment options to manage its symptoms.
It is sometimes difficult to determine if you might have Parkinson's disease. Here are some warning signs that indicate you should make an appointment to talk to your doctor:
Twitching or shaking of a finger, hand, or foot.
Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face.
Handwriting that looks cramped. Letters tend to be smaller than normal and words spaced close.
Difficulty sleeping. Early signs include uncontrollable movements on a regular basis.
Stiff and slow. Jerking motions and movement in a more uncoordinated pattern than before.
Slowed movements with difficulty continuing to move.
Problems with balance and walking.
Constipation. Straining to move your bowels can be an early sign.
Speaking in low tones, hoarse voice or with little inflection.
Masking-no expression in your face, making movement and control of small muscles in the face difficult.
Dizziness, fainting or low blood pressure when you stand up.
Stooped posture, leaning and slouching due to loss of coordination and balance. Posture will change in small ways at first and will gradually worsen.
Difficulty eating and swallowing.
Tell your doctor right away if you have these symptoms. Certain lifestyle changes may help you to cope with Parkinson's disease:
Healthy eating is important.
You may need to modify what you eat and drink if you have difficulty eating and swallowing.
Speech therapy not only helps with speech but can help with swallowing.
Exercise and keep active.
Work on keeping stress at a minimum.
Low energy may require that you rest throughout the day.
Physical and occupational therapy will help to keep you independent.
Place safety rails throughout the home to prevent falls.
Assistive devices will help make movement easier. Some of these devices are; canes, walkers, wheelchairs, lifts, shower seats, raised toilet seats, and custom eating utensils.
Parkinson's Support groups
Resources from the American Parkinson Disease Association
Resources from the National Parkinson Foundation
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