Parkinson's Disease, The Clues Can Confuse

An accurate diagnosis of Parkinson's disease requires both medical experience and the skills of a detective. That's because the clues in every case are a little bit different. The first symptom varies from person to person. (Usually one of the Primary Symptoms listed

below.) The order and time frame of the development of additional symptoms also vary. And there is no standard for the severity of any of the symptoms. The only consistency seems to be that early symptoms tend to be subtle and occur over time.

Adding to the mystery, the severity of the symptoms can fluctuate, confusing the patient and the doctor. Plus, some symptoms may actually be related to other illnesses or the side effects of medications. And there is no definitive test to identify or verify the disease. So a doctor (neurologist) usually arrives at a diagnosis through a detective process that combines medical examination, evaluation of history and symptoms, testing, and the process of elimination.

Primary Symptoms:

  • Tremor – Shaking of a limb (or other part of the body). Commonly happens when the body is at rest and begins on one side of the body.

  •  Rigidity – Stiffness of limbs that can affect one limb at a time or all at once.

  •  Bradykinesia – Slowness in initiating and executing movement.

  •  Akinesia – Absence of movement andthe reduction of spontaneous movement. This includes "freezing", which is being stuck in place for a few seconds or more when attempting to take a step.

  •  Postural Dysfunction – Difficulty in controlling balance which has a negative effect on posture and walking.

Other Symptoms:

  •  Masked Facies (reduced facial expression)  Less Frequent Eye Blinking

  •  Dysphagia (swallowing difficulty)

  •  Dysphonia (low voice volume)

  •  Depression or Anxiety

  •  Sleeping Problems

  •  Personality Changes

  •  Constipation

  •  Sexual Difficulties

  •  Dizziness, Confusion or Dementia

  •  Micrographia (small, cramped writing)

  •  Seborrhea (oily, scaly skin)

To diagnose Parkinson's disease, a doctor must work like a detective to discover clues, assemble evidence and eliminate other suspected illnesses.


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