Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive brain disorder that causes loss of muscle control and affects nearly one million people in the United States alone. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation says the disease involves “the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain,” many of which produce dopamine, a chemical that is responsible for controlling movement and coordination.
While symptoms such as tremors, slowed movement and speech problems are among the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s, they tend to present themselves only once the disease has progressed. To detect Parkinson’s disease in the early stages of development, look for the following seven signs that can present years before the above.
1. Loss of Smell
A lost, or impaired, sense of smell is considered among the very earliest warning signs of Parkinson’s disease. Medically referred to as anosmia, it can sometimes occur as much as several years prior to other symptoms developing.
2. Trouble Sleeping
While it’s common for someone to experience trouble sleeping on occasion, if it occurs often it may be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. Kicking, shouting or grinding one’s teeth while asleep may indicate a condition called rapid eye-movement behavior disorder (RBD). Approximately 40 percent of those with RBD eventually develop Parkinson’s disease.
As Parkinson’s disease compromises the body’s nervous system, which is responsible for proper digestion and bowel function, constipation is another early warning sign of the disease. While constipation on its own is quite common, if it’s also accompanied by symptoms such as “difficulty sleeping and trouble moving or walking,” then it may be cause for concern.
4. Masked Face
Early on, Parkinson’s disease may impact the movement of the small muscles in the face. This can affect a person’s facial expressions, often leaving them with a very serious look, a blank stare on their face and less frequent blinking.
5. Mood Disorders
Although doctors have yet to completely understand the connection between mood disorders and Parkinson’s disease, it is a common early indicator. A person may experience symptoms such as depression, social withdrawal or heightened anxiety in new situations.
6. Dizziness and Fainting
Feeling dizzy after standing up can happen from time to time, but if it is a persistent issue it may be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) is when a person’s blood pressure drops suddenly after standing up is quite common in those with the Parkinson’s disease, affecting 15 to 50 percent of people.
7. Stooping or Hunching Over
Are you not standing up as straight as you used to? If you or your family or friends notice that you seem to be stooping, leaning or slouching when you stand, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Again, all of these can occur years before the condition is full blown. The test becomes your therapy with functional neurology applications in my practice. Combine this with a science based nutritional approach and you can decrease your risk of this horrible disease.
Call 480-951-5006 to schedule a consultation or schedule here.
P.S. Dr. Burdorf will be giving a presentation about Parkinson’s Disease on Tuesday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. at TraVek’s offices in Scottsdale. Please join us! They are located at 15575 N 83rd Way, Ste A-4, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. They are one block West of the Costco on Hayden.