When it comes to diagnosis, Parkinson's disease has no definite process. Currently, there is not a blood or laboratory test capable of diagnosing an individual. Instead, two things are used: a person's medical history and a person's neurological signs and symptoms. Understanding the early signs of Parkinson's disease can help you or your loved one gain access to the care they deserve and need much more quickly.
Five Early Signs of Parkinson's Disease
In order to help people reach an appropriate diagnosis and receive suitable Parkinson's care, the National Parkinson Foundation shared some of the most common early warning signs of Parkinson's disease. Paying attention to the following signs could help you consider talking with a health care professional about the possibility of your having Parkinson's disease.
1. Twitching or Shaking
Slight shaking can occur in one's hands, face, or limbs. Tremors throughout the limbs are common early symptom of Parkinson's disease. However, shaking can also come from injury, exercise, or medication.
2. Small Handwriting
If your handwriting suddenly changes, where larger, more spacious print is now smaller and closer together, this could indicate Parkinson's disease. While it's perfectly normal for someone's handwriting to change throughout life, it's the sudden change you want to look out for.
3. Loss of Sense of Smell
Assess your ability to smell fragrant foods like bananas, dill pickles, and licorice. If the scents no longer register, your sense of smell may be degenerating. Anyone's sense of smell might fluctuate during times of illness, but it comes back once the illness passes.
4. Difficulty Sleeping
When you're unable to get restful sleep, it's usually a sign of some greater problem. When it comes to diagnosing Parkinson's disease, a doctor will look for thrashing, kicking, and other sudden movements during the sleep cycle. Don't be alarmed if it's a night or two of tossing and turning, but if it becomes a consistent occurrence, you may want to speak with your doctor.
5. Difficulty Moving or Walking
Stiffness throughout the body and its extremities that will not go away with movement can be a sign of Parkinson's disease. The stiffness can present itself through pain in the shoulder or hips or by keeping your arms from swinging when you walk. The stiffness you experience could also stem from an existing injury or arthritis.
Parkinson's Care and Diagnosis
The early signs of Parkinson's disease can be few and far between, and it can be especially difficult to notice symptoms if they occur sporadically. If you or your loved one experience more than one of the symptoms on this list, it might be time to see a doctor. Since no definitive test for diagnosis exists, the majority of doctors approach diagnosis through a "process of elimination."
They will most likely test for diseases that can be clinically proven in an effort to rule out Parkinson's disease. It is important to receive a diagnosis so those with the disease can begin receiving appropriate Parkinson's care.
We have several communities at Walker Methodist that are Struthers Parkinson's Care Network partners. They include:
Regardless of the specific care you or your loved one require, there is a Walker Methodist community that can meet your needs and provide you with opportunities to enjoy life to the fullest.