The Complexities of Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a complex illness with many different symptoms and combinations of symptoms. It can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages of the disease. Some of the early warning signs can be:
Constipation, loss of sense of smell, speech problems, very small handwriting, gait issues, stiffness, slow moving, clumsiness, forgetfulness, confusion, and resting tremor. These are many, but not all of the symptoms. I suggest that you see a qualified neurologist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease. If at all possible, find a neurologist who is a designated Movement Disorder Specialist, as they have special training.
No two patients alike
I have attended over 50 Parkinson’s conferences in my over 30 years of having this illness, and never have I seen any two patients exactly alike. There is a saying that if you have seen one person with Parkinson’s, then you’ve seen one person with Parkinson’s. This is an illness that is diagnosed by the patient’s symptoms. One test, is to see how the patient performs, once starting L-Dopa, the over 50 year gold standard drug for Parkinson’s disease. I am fortunate and grateful to tell that I have been taking L-Dopa for over 30 years and I received benefit from the drug since my very first day. The drug improved my balance, stiffness, and resting tremor all in less than 24 hours. I am still on a relatively low dosage for someone who has had Parkinson’s for so long.
More education needed
Parkinson’s disease can be physical, cognitive, or a combination:
Some patients may have bradykinesia, dystonia, rigidity, tremor, and or cognitive impairment. Some patients may have one or more of these symptoms at different times. Some may or may not have bouts of depression (an estimated 60 percent), have anxiety, eye problems, speech difficulty, heart issues, difficulty with hot and cold body regulation, constipation, loss of sense of smell, and a soft voice.
There is still a great deal of work and education needed by the organizations and patients to educate the public about what Parkinson’s is and isn’t. It is partly our job to help dispel misunderstandings and bad information related to this illness.
Do you or a loved one use smartphone apps to help with PD management?