Before you or a loved one received a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, you may have only been familiar with the tremor symptom. Parkinson’s is different for everyone and includes both motor and non-motor symptoms. Even after diagnosis, many are not aware of the range of symptoms the disease can involve.
Lack of awareness around certain symptoms can delay diagnosis. Even after diagnosis, it can sometimes be difficult to tell when symptoms are a part of Parkinson’s disease. And if you don’t know that something is a Parkinson’s symptom, you may also not be aware that it can be treated.
Here are some of the lesser-known symptoms.
Several different sleeping problems can be part of Parkinson’s disease, including insomnia, daytime sleepiness and REM behaviour disorder.
Depression and anxiety
Depression isn’t just a natural reaction to a difficult diagnosis. It’s also a common symptom of the disease itself.
Parkinson’s can cause slurred speech and a quieter voice. People with Parkinson’s who sing may also find that their musical side is affected, too. A speech therapist can help this symptom. Singing in a choir or on your own can help strengthen your voice, too.
The majority of people with Parkinson’s disease experience some smell loss. Though many people with smell loss do not develop Parkinson’s, it seems to be the first symptom for many who do.
Not everyone with Parkinson’s experiences symptoms of cognitive impairment, but they may include memory loss, difficulty multi-tasking or problems concentrating. The symptoms can range from mild cognitive impairment to Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD).
Both a Parkinson’s disease symptom and the third-most common movement disorder, it’s characterised by painful, prolonged muscle contractions.
Bradykinesia is a slowing down and/or loss of spontaneous and voluntary movement. You may move more slowly in general or swing one arm less while walking. You may also be able to show less facial expression, which is referred to as facial masking.
Fatigue and apathy
Many people with Parkinson’s experience these frustrating symptoms. Fatigue can also result from the sleep problems associated with Parkinson’s disease. If you struggle with fatigue, tackle it with these tips from our community.
Medication side effects
While not a symptom itself, many are unaware of the side effects Parkinson’s disease medication can sometimes have. Use of levodopa can lead to dyskinesia, which can be described as smooth tics. Dopamine agonists have been linked with impulsive behaviour. New data supports more substantial warnings for these drugs.
Another non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s is Orthostatic hypotension which is caused by a drop in blood pressure upon changing positions. This may cause lightheadedness and dizziness, which can result in passing out, fatigue and nausea. It could also contribute to gait instability and falls.