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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition that affects a person’s central nervous system. The disease slowly destroys a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which consequently restricts an individual’s movement. Common in the elderly, the disease affects approximately 50,000 people each year. While the condition strikes people differently, common primary signs of Parkinson’s often include tremors, slow movement, and poor coordination.
Slight shaking is one of the earliest signs of Parkinson’s. This shaking is typically called resting tremors because it occurs while a person is awake and not moving. At first, these tremors usually occur in a hand or limb on one side of the body. As the disease worsens, tremors may occur on both sides of a person’s body.
In addition to the limbs, slight shaking may occur in the chin, lips, and tongue. When a person becomes excited or stressed, the tremors often worsen. The tremors often subside when a person moves the affected area or is asleep.
Signs of Parkinson’s can also include slow movements, often referred to as bradykinesia. With bradykinesia, the brain is sluggish in sending signals to the muscles, which causes havoc with a person’s motor functions. A person with bradykinesia may have difficulty with getting up, walking, and sitting down. Also, an individual with bradykinesia may have trouble completing movements. Bradykinesia may also affect facial muscles, limiting a person’s ability to make facial expressions.
Stiffness and sore muscles are other common signs of Parkinson’s. Since muscles may become so sore, a person can experience difficulty swinging his arms. A person with Parkinson’s may also experience pain in the legs, neck, and face. As the muscles become stiffer, movement becomes limited in affected body parts and this can lead to cramping.
When Parkinson’s worsens, symptoms may include problems with balance. As the reflexes related to posture deteriorate, a person is apt to fall down frequently. Individuals with coordination issues will also have trouble turning or making sudden movements. Adding to coordination difficulties, a person may experience a symptom where he has trouble lifting his legs because the limbs feel frozen to the floor.
A person with Parkinson’s may experience a host of secondary symptoms that stem from the primary symptoms. Signs of Parkinson’s may also include anxiety, depression, or feelings of isolation. Also, a person may have symptoms such as confusion or trouble remembering things. Physical symptoms may include trouble swallowing, abdominal cramps, constipation, and the inability to control the bladder.
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