How Do You Know if It's Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's Disease affects the nerves and weakens them. Nerves control many parts of the body and they all suffer. Slight tremors like in one hand may commence the ailment. Stiffness may follow and a slowing down of physical movements. Speech may get unsteady and walking may be hindered. Parkinson's Disease is progressive and the condition gets worse over time. In the absence of a cure, medications help to control the symptoms. In some cases, surgery helps.

Probable Causes

Research has not confirmed a definite cause. Genetics and the environment may be responsible. Viruses could be a cause. Some believe that dopamine levels could affect the problem. Norepinephrine too is linked since it regulates dopamine. Lewy bodies found in patients’ brains are another mystery not resolved. According to research, some persons run greater risks of the disease −

  • Age-wise, those between 50 years and 60 years face the greatest risk

  • Family history indicates a greater possibility of developing the disease

  • Being exposed to certain toxic substances increases the risk

  • A head injury increases the chances of developing Parkinson’s

  • Men stand in far greater danger than women

  • White people have greater chances of developing the disease

Common Parkinson's Disease Characteristics

If one of these characteristics occurs, it should not be a cause for worry. If several occur and often, it might indicate the beginnings of Parkinson’s.

Getting Dizzy

Standing up from a sitting or crouching position may lead to a dizzy feeling. Fainting also indicates low blood pressure which could be a symptom of Parkinson's Disease. It might happen once or twice in a hurry. If it is repeated, it is time to seek medical attention.

Feeling Constipated

Straining to move the bowels on a regular basis? Not being hydrated and lacking fiber in the diet could cause constipation too. Some medications result in constipation too. If such causes can be ruled out, get checked by the doctor.

Changes in the Voice Quality

Is the voice changing and becoming soft or hoarse? If listeners cannot hear well, it might not be weak hearing but softer speaking. It is possible that the voice change resulted from a cold or cough but that is temporary.

Facial Changes

It is called facial masking when a gloomy or serious look appears on the face. It might not be a mad mood. Avoid a hurry since such a look can be the result of certain medications. After the ailment is cured with medications, the normal look should return.

A Stooping Posture

A leaning or unsteady posture could indicate the disease. Is anybody commenting on that? Such a bending walk occurs in this disease. Make sure that it is not an injury or ailment that causes an unsteady walk.


The fingers and hands may shake a little bit as if trembling. It is a common early sign if the tremors occur in the condition of rest. Hectic activity, strenuous games, and exercise do result in shaking but briefly. Stress and injury can cause tremors too. Certain medications cause tremors. Give it careful thought and wait a while before consulting a medical specialist.

Reduced Handwriting Size

It is often seen that letters in handwriting change and get smaller. Words may be moving closer together. Micrographia depicts such a change and is an indicator of developing Parkinsonism. Avoid hurrying in decision-making since aging can cause weak eyesight and unsteady hands and fingers.

Absence of Smell

The sense of smell weakens but the change may be hard to notice. If it is obvious, it needs to be talked over. Some factors like a cold and flu can temporarily weaken the sense of smell. It should be restored when recovered.

Disturbed Sleep

A restless night with quick movements while asleep may indicate the disease. Though the patient does not realize it, the others in the bed or room may feel it. Occasionally, everybody experiences a disturbed night of tossing around in sleeplessness. Even sudden movements can occur in normal persons but temporarily.

Impaired Movement

Stiffness in the body and arms often disappears with movements. If the stiffness continues, it could be a sign of the disease. The shoulders and hips suffer more pain and stiffness. If an injury or a fall happened, pain and stiffness are normal for some time.

Conditions with Similar Symptoms

Confusions often arise with some other ailments that have overlapping symptoms like tremors. A specialist can distinguish the differences. Treatments differ.

  • Progressive supranuclear palsy

  • Arteriosclerotic parkinsonism

  • Corticobasal syndrome

  • Multiple system atrophy

  • Essential tremor

  • Dementia with Lewy bodies

  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus

  • Viral parkinsonism

Diagnosis and Medications

No particular tests confirm Parkinson’s disease. Imaging tests like CAT scans and MRIs help to rule out other diseases. A dopamine transporter (DAT) scan also helps in diagnosis. The usual medication is Levodopa which mimics dopamine.

If one or more of the symptoms regularly occur, seek medical attention early. Remain on the safe side with medications and lifestyle changes, activity, and exercise. Aim for healthy nutrition and ample hydration, and get quality sleep regularly.

Updated on: 05-May-2023


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