The hallmark signs of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are a tremor, slow movement, and rigidity. In addition, difficulty with coordination, a number of non-motor symptoms, and other complications are common.
However, there are ways to manage many of these complications. Doing so can ensure a better quality of life for a person with PD.
Find out more about the complications of Parkinson’s disease and what you can do about them.
As PD affects the muscles, a person’s speech can become softer and harder to understand. Over time, changes in thinking ability can make it harder to communicate. This can make it hard to join in social activities.
A study published in the BMJ Open in 2017 notes that speech therapy is important for keeping people communicating effectively. It can help to improve or maintain a person’s quality of life.
2. Chewing and swallowing
Chewing and swallowing difficulties can occur, especially during the later stages of the disease. These can be due to changes in function either in the autonomic nervous system or the muscles in the throat, known as the pharyngeal muscles.
These changes increase the risk of getting food stuck in the throat and choking, which can be life-threatening. If the person accidentally breathes food particles into the lungs, pneumonia can result.
The person may also produce too much saliva or they may not be able to swallow the saliva easily. This can lead to drooling, which can be embarrassing for the individual.
Some medications may improve symptoms. A speech-language therapist can sometimes help a person to retrain their throat muscles so that they can swallow more effectively.
3. Depression and anxiety
Depression can occur with PD, and it can make symptoms worse.
Researchers suggest that around 40 to 50 percent of people with PD also experience depression. They add that this aspect of the condition can be harder for the individual and their loved ones to cope with than the physical symptoms.
Other neuropsychiatric symptoms include:
- mood disturbance
- sleep problems
- changes in behavior and the way the person thinks
However, the symptoms of depression are treatable, and recovery is possible.
Seeking medical help when symptoms of depression start to appear can give the person a better quality of life, improved functionality, and a chance of slowing the symptoms.