Did you know that 60 thousand Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year? What’s more, there are over one million people in the U.S. struggling with PD, meaning it’s far more common than you might think. If you’re worried about your health or the health of a loved one and think it may be Parkinson’s related, you’ll first need to know about some of the early signs of Parkinson’s as well as the five stages of PD.
Spending a few minutes of your day reading this article could fundamentally change the life of yourself or someone you love. So join us as we explore the basics of PD.
Spotting the Early Signs of Parkinson’s
In truth, there are quite a few signs of Parkinson’s. However, some are more apparent than others, making them easier to spot. Here are a few to look out for.
It’s not uncommon for someone’s hands to shake a bit when they’re dealing with low blood sugar. But tremors are a different matter altogether and are often one of the first signs of Parkinson’s.
Tremors can affect the hands or the entire arm, causing them to move involuntarily.
Another disease called Essential Tremors can sometimes look like Parkinson’s, so check with your healthcare provider if you’re concerned.
Parkinson’s is a disease that most often affects the area of the brain responsible for regulating movement. As such, it can become difficult to walk or even stay upright.
Those with PD may struggle to maintain a ‘normal’ walking speed or may see changes to their gait.
Changes in Facial Expressions
Gradual loss of motor control results in something known as The Parkinson Mask.
These changes often begin with a reduction in blinking. Slowly, a person with PD may have difficulty recreating common facial expressions like happiness or sadness.
The Five Stages
Now that we know about some of the more common signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, let’s discuss the five stages. Here’s a quick rundown.
During the initial stage of Parkinson’s, you’ll begin to notice the symptoms listed above. However, they may not keep you from changing your daily routine.
Symptoms are often mild enough during this stage that little additional care is needed.
By this stage, symptoms are growing in severity. This is often when difficulty with movement becomes more apparent.
Still, a person in stage 2 can go about their life as normal for the most part.
The midpoint of Parkinson’s is where symptoms take a turn for the worse. Tasks like driving and writing are difficult if not impossible, and facial tics become more apparent.
Movement is still possible, though additional help with a walker or cane is needed. Tics and tremors are significantly worse than in stage 3.
It’s at this point where it becomes necessary to consider medical care for a loved one.
During the final stage, patients may become entirely bedridden as their muscles make regular movement almost impossible.
Likewise, The Parkinson Mask is in full effect and patients may have trouble speaking.
Understanding Parkinson’s and What to Look For
By learning about the early signs of Parkinson’s, you can help get the right care for those you care about.
For more information on PD, talk to your doctor.
And be sure to check out the rest of our health and fitness section for additional tips to help you stay healthy.