Know the early signs of Parkin­son’s dis­ease

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - SENIOR LIFE -

De­spite af­fect­ing roughly 10 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide, Parkin­son’s dis­ease, a neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­or­der, re­mains a mys­tery to many peo­ple.

To peo­ple out­side of the med­i­cal field with no per­sonal or fam­ily his­tory of Parkin­son’s, the dis­ease may only ring a bell be­cause of some no­table names at­tached to it. The late Muham­mad Ali and ac­tor Michael J. Fox are two house­hold names that made their Parkin­son’s di­ag­noses pub­lic. But even those who study Parkin­son’s for a liv­ing do not know every­thing about this puz­zling dis­ease.

Ac­cord­ing to the Parkin­son’s Foun­da­tion, the cause of Parkin­son’s dis­ease is largely un­known. While there’s no cure for the dis­ease, var­i­ous treat­ment op­tions can help those di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease live as nor­mal and pro­duc­tive a life as pos­si­ble.

The PF notes that un­der­stand­ing the dis­ease and its pro­gres­sion is the first step to liv­ing well. Though the foun­da­tion also notes that peo­ple first start ex­pe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms later in the course of the dis­ease, learn­ing to rec­og­nize some early symp­toms may com­pel peo­ple to seek treat­ment.

• Tremor: Many peo­ple might ex­pe­ri­ence shak­ing after a vig­or­ous workout or when they are deal­ing with stress or in­jury. But the PF notes that a tremor in a fin­ger, thumb, hand or chin while at rest is a com­mon early sign of Parkin­son’s dis­ease.

• Small hand­writ­ing: Hand­writ­ing can change as peo­ple age, es­pe­cially if they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing stiff­ness in their hands or their vi­sion is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing. But mi­cro­graphia, a dis­or­der in which hand­writ­ing be­comes ab­nor­mally small and cramped, is an­other early in­di­ca­tor of Parkin­son’s dis­ease.

• Loss of smell: The PF ad­vises peo­ple who are hav­ing trou­ble smelling foods such as ba­nanas, dill pick­les or licorice speak with their physi­cians about Parkin­son’s dis­ease. Tem­po­rary loss of smell due to some­thing like the com­mon cold, con­ges­tion or the flu is not an early in­di­ca­tor of Parkin­son’s.

• Dif­fi­culty sleep­ing: A sig­nif­i­cant other may no­tice their part­ner mov­ing sud­denly dur­ing sleep, and

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