Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that could impair motor skills, movement and speech of the sufferer. One of the characteristics of Parkinson’s symptoms is that they may not manifest themselves until the disease has progressed a great deal – until about 80% of the affected portion of the brain (the substantia nigra) has died.
Symptoms can be noted in the characteristic hand tremor, the altered gait, alteration of posture which are the primary symptoms of the disease, but there is also a manifestation of secondary symptoms among those who have the condition.
Primary Parkinson’s symptoms include:
- This condition also used to be known as the Shaking Palsy, owing to the fact that one of the main symptoms is that characteristic involuntary tremble that occurs in the hands, fingers, forearm or the feet; sometimes the mouth and chin as well.
- A rigidity of the muscles is another symptom of Parkinson’s disease. This is stiffness or a rigidity that can impair the ability to make quick or spontaneous movements.
- There is also a particular gait or an altered way of walking that one may note as one of the Parkinson’s symptoms. The body appears flexed or bent and there is a distinctively recognizable way that sufferers walk. There is usually a tendency to lean forward or backward when walking and a strange shuffling kind of walk (also known as festinating), that is devoid of the usual arm movement that most people walk with. A stance with stooping shoulders and lowered head is characteristic of Parkinson’s. When a sufferer starts to walk it may seem as though they are falling, or they could have some difficult turning; all of these being commonly seen symptoms.
- The lack of movement of reduced speed of movement or maintaining movement is known as Akinesia.
- Impaired balance and an increased chance of falling are also among the commonly seen symptoms.
In addition to the primary symptoms there are certain secondary Parkinson’s symptoms to be seen as well, such as:
- Dysphagia is one of the Parkinson’s symptoms in which the sufferer experiences difficulty swallowing. Due to this food may collect at the back of the mouth of the throat and this could result in coughing or choking. Similarly saliva can also collect, resulting in drooling.
- Excessive salivation or excessive perspiration could also be among the secondary Parkinson’s symptoms.
- The handwriting of a person with Parkinson’s could change; making them smaller and cramped.
- Constipation may also be noted as a result of Parkinson’s.
- Depression and psychosocial problems such as anxiety, isolation and apprehension may also be noted among the symptoms.
- There could also be changes in the voice with the voice becoming softer and whisper like
- The person’s response time may become impaired so that they are slow to react to situations or respond to questions.
- Later in the disease Parkinson’s symptoms such as decreased mental capacity with dementia like symptoms could also manifest themselves.