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Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Sure Signs You May Be Getting Parkinson's, According to Science

 Like many progressive conditions, Parkinson's disease (PD)—a disorder of the brain and central nervous system that can impair movement and speech—may have vague, subtle, or small symptoms at first. (Perhaps the most famous person living with Parkinson's, Michael J. Fox, said he was diagnosed after feeling a twitch in his left little finger.) 

But it's important to know what those first signals may be, so a diagnosis can be made and treatment can begin as soon as possible. The key is to look for symptoms in combination. "There are a number of early signs of PD," says James Beck, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of the Parkinson's Foundation. "While you need not worry if you have any one of these symptoms alone, the Parkinson's Foundation recommends seeing your doctor if you are experiencing more than one symptom."  

1

Tremor

woman suffering from pain in wrist at home.
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Some people with Parkinson's develop a tremor, or shaking. This often initially appears in your finger, hand, or chin while you're at rest, says Beck. In people with Parkinson's, brain cells that produce a natural chemical called dopamine are destroyed. That can produce tremors and other symptoms. 

2

Handwriting Changes

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"Micrographia is the term for when your handwriting gets smaller or more crowded," says Beck. It can be a sign of Parkinson's, but it can also have other causes. "While micrographia (small handwriting) is a symptom of PD, a change in handwriting can also be caused by stiff hands from arthritis or poor vision as you age," he adds. But if you notice this in combination with other symptoms on this list, consult your doctor. 

3

Loss Of Sense Of Smell

woman trying to sense smell of half fresh orange, has symptoms of Covid-19
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This now-infamous symptom may be a sign of COVID-19, a cold or the flu—but it can also be a symptom of Parkinson's. If you experience a loss of smell, get tested for the coronavirus. But it should come back. If it doesn't, ask your doctor if you should be screened for PD. 

4

Trouble Sleeping Or Sudden Movements While Sleeping

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We all toss and turn occasionally, or suddenly jerk ourselves awake when falling asleep. That's normal. But if you regularly thrash around in bed or act out dreams when you're in deep sleep, it could be a sign of PD. 

5

Stiffness While Moving Or Walking

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Stiffness or trouble moving could be due to injury, or an issue like arthritis, says Beck. But if the stiffness doesn't go away when you move, it can be a sign of Parkinson's disease. An early signal may be stiffness or pain in your shoulder or hips; you might also feel like your feet are stuck to the floor. 

6

Frequent Constipation

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If you're experiencing constipation, it could be due to a lack of fiber in your diet. But Parkinson's affects the autonomic nervous system and prevents it from functioning properly, and that can slow down the digestive system and affect how your bowels move. If constipation is a new issue for you or has lasted longer than three weeks, call your doctor.

7

Change In Your Voice

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"Your voice may become softer or hoarse-sounding," says Beck. You might think other people around you are losing your hearing, when in fact you're speaking more softly. 

8

A "Masked Face"

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In this symptom, your expression may appear serious or even angry, says Beck, even when you don't intend to. If you've been told you look serious, depressed or mad when you're feeling fine, you should ask your doctor about screening for PD.

9

Dizziness or Changes in Posture

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You might feel a sense of dizziness when you stand up or notice changes in your posture at any time. Those changes may include stooping, hunching over, or leaning, says Beck.

10

When to See a Doctor

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If you're experiencing more than one of the above symptoms, ask your doctor about screening for Parkinson's. "Unfortunately, making a PD diagnosis—especially in its early stages—is not easy," says Beck. "There is not a simple blood test or brain scan that confirms a diagnosis. The presence of bradykinesia (slowness of movement), plus either tremor or stiffness/rigidity, will help doctors make a PD diagnosis."

If you're diagnosed with Parkinson's disease by an internist or geriatrician, the Parkinson's Foundation "strongly recommends following up with a movement disorder specialist for a second opinion," says Beck. "Movement disorder specialists are neurologists who have specific training in diagnosing and treating PD." 

7 Secrets Doctors Don't Want You To Know

 With health scares in the headlines daily, there's a good chance you've needed to see your doctor this past year. And chances are, they've been honest with you about your health, and the COVID-19 vaccine (ask them about it if you're still unvaccinated!). But what aren't they telling you? We asked some top doctors about what they're keeping from you.  

1

They Can Tell When You're Lying

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"You'd be surprised at how frequently patients come to the ER and decide not to tell us important details pertaining to their case," says Dr. Rachel Shively, MD, an Emergency Medicine physician and Toxicologist practicing in New York. "Plus we can tell when you're lying. With lying, it is usually because they are embarrassed or nervous that we won't give them the same care if they are upfront about things they do that might be disadvantageous to their health—such as drug use or not being compliant with their medications. Which is totally not true—we certainly don't judge—but is sad. Things like what you took, or the mechanism of your injury, are important things to tell us." 

2

They Don't Love it When You Exaggerate

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"Sometimes people will lie about the severity of their symptoms or add symptoms because they think—or have been told—that doctors won't take them seriously unless they have '10 out 10' pain," says Dr. Shively. "This is also unfounded but with them I always wonder what happened to them in prior medical experiences that made them think that way and also why that seems to be a pervasive thought in certain communities. Same goes for threatening to sue if you don't get what you want." 

3

They  Get Frustrated if You're Not There For the Right Reasons

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"I don't work in a clinic, so I don't deal with cancellations, but occasionally we do get people who are opiate-seeking or seeking to be admitted to the hospital for social reasons. Those people are frustrating as they inappropriately use resources causing people with legitimate concerns longer wait times—plus they can become violent with medical staff which is clearly unsafe for everyone," says Dr. Shively. "But, usually, they have unfortunate reasons for doing so—like homelessness and mental illness—so we try to have compassion about it." 

4

They Don't Understand Your Insurance Plan So You Better

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"Even as a board-certified physician and a graduate of multiple years of medical school and residency, I don't understand insurance plans well and neither do my patients," says Inessa Fishman, MD, a Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at Aviva Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics. "I find that patients often think that having insurance means all their treatments are 'covered in full'; this is certainly not the case for many people. Many of my patients do not understand concepts like copays and deductibles, and do not know the details of these as they pertain to their individual health insurance plans. This isn't a secret per se, but I do think that understanding one's health insurance plan—and preparing for a specialist visit by finding out which treatments are covered and which are not—would lead to a more effective and less frustrating experience for a patient at the doctor's office." 

5

They Won't Insert Their Personal Opinions

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"I tend to withhold personal opinions with patients," says Dr. Erica Steele, DNM ND CFMP BCND of Holistic Family Practice. "A patient may be on the fence about huge topics such as immunizations, abortion, etc., and my job is to be a biased objective healthcare perspective simply weighing the pros and cons for various healthcare scenarios. It is not my job to place blame, judgement, or sway my patients in any direction. Ultimately, I respect a person's right to choose their own healthcare decisions therefore will only provide the facts as I see them, nothing more." 

6

They Won't Share Their Religious Beliefs

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"I withhold my religious/spiritual beliefs," says Steele. "I treat in Virginia, a Bible Belt state, and am often asked questions about my religious beliefs. Although I think it is very important to have a provider you can trust, I also think that sometimes it is rather invasive to be asked personal questions regarding your spiritual beliefs. Although I have a strong spiritual background, I often do not feel my healthcare practice is often the place to express those views, especially when I am fearful of saying the wrong thing or the right thing." 

7

They Won't Share Their Age

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"I am young, and I also look younger than I am, however I am extremely intelligent—remember Doogie Howser?" says Dr. Steele. "I tend to blow people away with my knowledge and insight, but also look very young which leaves people curious. I am often asked my age and become reluctant to answer as I become concerned that my opinion will not be taken as seriously as my twenty-year counter parts. Although age may be a factor in some things, cutting healthcare knowledge is found in the younger healthcare teams."