Person in arm chair nods off into a nap.

Community Views: 7 Lesser Known Parkinson’s Symptoms You Wish Would Disappear

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is far more complicated than simply dealing with tremor. This diagnosis can affect the entire body, including the brain and how it functions.

To learn more about which aspect of Parkinson’s the members of our community find most challenging, we reached out on the ParkinsonsDisease.net Facebook page and posed this question: “Let us say you have the ability to make one PD symptom disappear. Which do you choose?”

The community weighed in with so many responses, that we divided your answers into two stories. This story tackles the lesser-known symptoms of Parkinson’s that the community most wished would disappear.

Here is what you said.

“Swallowing.”

As Parkinson’s progresses, it becomes increasingly common to have problems chewing, eating, and swallowing. Sometimes people with Parkinson’s do not immediately recognize that they are struggling to swallow, but see the problem when realizing they have lost weight without trying.

Other telltales are coughing or choking while or after eating or having difficulty keeping food in the mouth. After experiencing these symptoms in an ongoing way, people with Parkinson’s see that this symptom is part of their diagnosis, which can lead some people to isolate themselves while eating. However, do note that this symptom can be treated with mouth exercises, as well as by changing food choices.

“For my dad, swallowing difficulties because he loves to eat!”

“Nodding off.”

People with Parkinson’s commonly mention a feeling of exhaustion, so it is no wonder that nodding off can happen. The cause for Parkinson’s fatigue is not known, but could be a result of added stress on muscles due to tremor and muscle contractions.

“The nodding off.”

“Fatigue.”

“Nightmares.”

It is not commonly known that PD can also affect sleep, which can result from PD changing brain chemistry.

Alternatively, some PD medications can also alter sleep. This can show up as vivid dreaming and nightmares, which can make going to bed stressful. So, it makes sense that some folks wish this symptom would go away so they can get a peaceful night of slumber.

“Nightmares.”

“Sense of smell.”

This symptom is not talked about often, but truly affects quality of life - namely the ability to enjoy food, which can result in unintentional weight loss. Sadly, there are no treatments currently for loss of smell.

“I know compared to all the other symptoms this seems very minor, but I miss my sense of smell so much!”

“Orthostatic hypotension.”

Some people with PD experience this blood pressure drop when standing up or sitting down. It is a ‘headrush’ or lightheadedness, which can result in falls - making it a dangerous complication.

“Orthostatic hypotension is debilitating for my husband.”

“Stiffness.”

Stiffness, tightness, or rigidity can occur—which can affect the body in several ways, from reduced arm swing while walking to complications getting comfortable sleeping. This aspect of PD is so common, in fact, that it is one of the ways that doctors often diagnosis PD.

“Stiffness.”

“Balance.”

Nearly everyone living with PD experiences balance problems and posture instability. The earlier-mentioned rigidity in the body also does not help one’s ability to walk and carry oneself.

However, like so many other aspects of PD, the extent to which someone with PD experiences balance problems varies. For those whose balance is severely impaired, it makes sense to wish this symptom would disappear as it is hard to function when feeling off-kilter all day long.

“Balance. My wife has fallen several times and I worry when I am not in close contact with her.”

We want to say thank you to everyone who shared their PD experiences. We appreciate your honesty and willingness to share with the community.

Which PD symptom do you wish would disappear? Let us know in the comments below.

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