Written by Parkinson's Foundation, reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Spears, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinson's Foundation Center of Excellence.
It can be hard to tell if you or a loved one has Parkinson's disease (PD). Below are 10 signs that you might have Parkinson’s disease. No single one of these signs means that you should worry, but if you have more than one sign you should consider making an appointment to talk to your doctor.
Have you noticed a slight shaking or tremor in your finger, thumb, hand, or chin? A tremor while at rest is a common early sign of Parkinson's disease.
2. Small Handwriting
Has your handwriting gotten much smaller than it was in the past? You may notice the way you write words on a page has changed, such as letter sizes are smaller and the words are crowded together. A change in handwriting may be a sign of Parkinson's disease called micrographia.
3. Loss of Smell
Have you noticed you no longer smell certain foods very well? If you seem to have more trouble smelling foods like bananas, dill pickles, or licorice, you should ask your doctor about Parkinson's.
4. Trouble Sleeping
Do you thrash around in bed or act out dreams when you are deeply asleep? Sometimes, your spouse will notice or will want to move to another bed. Sudden movements during sleep may be a sign of Parkinson's disease.
5. Trouble Moving or Walking
Do you feel stiff in your body, arms, or legs? Have others noticed that your arms don’t swing like they used to when you walk? Sometimes stiffness goes away as you move. If it does not, it can be a sign of Parkinson's disease. An early sign might be stiffness or pain in your shoulder or hips. People sometimes say their feet seem “stuck to the floor.”
Do you have trouble moving your bowels without straining every day? Straining to move your bowels can be an early sign of Parkinson's disease and you should talk to your doctor.
7. A soft or low voice
Have other people told you that your voice is very soft or that you sound hoarse? If there has been a change in your voice you should see your doctor about whether it could be Parkinson's disease. Sometimes you might think other people are losing their hearing when really you are speaking more softly.
8. Masked Face
Have you been told that you have a serious, depressed, or mad look on your face, even when you are not in a bad mood? This is often called facial masking. If so, you should ask your doctor about Parkinson's disease.
9. Dizziness or Fainting
Do you notice that you often feel dizzy when you stand up out of a chair? Feeling dizzy or fainting can be a sign of low blood pressure and can be linked to Parkinson's disease (PD).
10. Stooping or Hunching Over
Are you not standing up as straight as you used to? If you or your family or friends notice that you seem to be stooping, leaning, or slouching when you stand, it could be a sign of Parkinson's disease (PD).
What can you do if you have Parkinson’s Disease? Work with your doctor to create a plan to stay healthy.
This might include the following:
· A referral to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain.
· Care from a physical therapist that specializes in Parkinson's Disease, such as at California Therapy Solutions.
· Meeting with a medical social worker to talk about how Parkinson's will affect your life.
· Start a regular exercise program to delay further symptoms.
· Talk with family and friends who can provide you with the support you need.