Parkinson’s disease is defined as an “a chronic and progressive brain disorder that causes loss of muscle control”, and about one million people in the US are affected by it. According to the he Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the condition causes “the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain.” Many of the affected nerves are responsible for producing dopamine, the chemical that controls movement and coordination of the human body.
Commonly known symptoms of Parkinson’s include slowed movement, speech impediments, and tremors. But these often only present themselves when the illness has progressed to its later stages. As with any other disease, the earlier that it is detected, the easier it would be treat and medicate. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that might be present in the early stages of it. Here are 12 such signs that you need to be on the lookout for.
1. Loss of Smell
Loss of or an impaired sense of smell, known medically as anosmia, is said to be one of the very first signs of Parkinson’s In fact, the NHS says that in some cases, this symptom might develop several years before any others do.
According to the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation the problem with smell arises when “messages such as odor cues don’t get through” to the brain due to cell and nerve damage, disrupting the signals passed to the brain from the muscle and nerves. This occurs due to the dopamine-producing cells being affected, as we saw earlier.
2. Trouble Sleeping
Having trouble sleeping is something that plagues all humans at some point or the other, but if it lasts for a long time, you might want to get it checked out as it is could be pointing to Parkinson’s disease. It is especially concerning in the case that you also experience shouting, kicking, or grinding your teeth during sleep. This is a condition called RBD or Rapid Eye-Movement Behavior Disorder.
RBD is very worrisome because about 40 percent of patients with it develop Parkinson’s disease, according to the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation. They also say that other sleeping disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are commonly linked to early stage Parkinson’s disease, sometimes even years in advance.