Alarming Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and How to Recognize Them

Mood and Behavioral Changes Parkinson’s disease is not solely a physical disease. It can also lead to behavioral and mood changes. These changes can include increased… Alli Anderson - February 27, 2023

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be a devastating diagnosis, not just for the person who has it, but for their loved ones as well. Although Parkinson’s disease can be difficult to diagnose, recognizing the signs and symptoms can be the first step towards getting the help and treatment needed to manage the condition. In this listicle, we will explore some of the common and uncommon signs of Parkinson’s disease, with the goal of raising awareness and promoting early detection. It is our hope that this information will help people recognize the signs of Parkinson’s disease, seek medical advice from a healthcare professional, and ultimately get a step ahead of treatment if you do find yourself with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Parkinsons NSW.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease (PD)?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects movement, but it can also cause a variety of surprising and unexpected symptoms. These symptoms include changes in voice and speech, sleep disorders, changes in vision, loss of sense of smell, skin problems, constipation, anxiety and depression, cognitive changes, impulse control disorders, excessive sweating, decreased blood pressure upon standing, hallucinations, pain, and difficulty swallowing. Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that helps regulate movement and coordination, and when these neurons are damaged or destroyed, it leads to a lack of dopamine in the brain.

News Medical.

Parkinson’s Disease Risk Factors

The exact cause of Parkinson’s Disease is not fully understood, but it is thought to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some genetic mutations have been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s, and exposure to certain toxins or chemicals may also play a role. Age is also a significant risk factor, as the risk of developing Parkinson’s increases with age. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatment options are available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life for people with the condition.

University of Minnesota.

Sleep Disturbances

Unfortunately, sleep disturbances are one of the most common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. People with Parkinson’s disease may experience sleep issues such as vivid dreams, nightmares, and even acting out dreams. These issues tend to progress with the disease. Parkinson’s disease can disrupt the brain’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which can cause these sleep problems. There are different reasons why these sleep problems happen, and few studies have been done to find effective treatments. On its own, sleep disturbances are not an indication of Parkinson’s disease. But if you do find yourself with more than a couple of the symptoms on this list, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Difficulty Swallowing

Swallowing difficulties and drooling are common symptoms that affect many people with Parkinson’s disease. These issues can lead to uncomfortable and embarrassing situations, as well as increase the risk of pneumonia and other complications. In Parkinson’s disease, the muscles in the mouth and throat can become weak, making it difficult to swallow food and drink. This can cause choking, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Drooling is also common, as the muscles in the mouth and throat may not work properly. There are different ways to manage these symptoms, such as changing the texture of food and drinks, taking medications, and practicing exercises to strengthen the muscles. Seeking the help of a speech therapist or occupational therapist can also be beneficial in improving swallowing function and reducing drooling

Science Direct

Loss Of Smell (Anosmia)

Loss of smell, or anosmia, is a common non-motor symptom in Parkinson’s disease (PD). It can occur years before motor symptoms develop and is thought to be caused by the degeneration of nerve cells in the olfactory system. Research has shown that loss of smell may be a useful early marker for PD and that it is associated with more severe motor symptoms and a greater cognitive decline. While there is currently no cure for anosmia in PD, studies have explored the potential use of olfactory training and other treatments to help manage this symptom. Additionally, the research suggests that the use of olfactory testing can help clinicians diagnose PD and monitor the progression of the disease.

Pacific Neuroscience Institute.

Gut Issues & Parkinson’s Disease

Obviously, gut issues are not exclusive to Parkinson’s disease. However, this is a lesser known issue that people suffering from the disease may experience. This study discusses the potential connection between the gut and the brain in Parkinson’s disease, and explores the possibility of using food-based therapies to improve symptoms. It highlights the role of the gut microbiome in the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease, and examines the impact of different dietary factors on the microbiome and how they may affect the disease. The text suggests that a better understanding of the relationship between the gut and the brain, and the use of food-based therapies, may offer a promising approach to managing Parkinson’s disease.

Intermountain Healthcare.

Pain and Sensitivity

One of the most difficult symptoms to manage with Parkinson’s Disease is the chronic pain that most likely comes with the diagnosis. The pain can take various forms, such as musculoskeletal, dystonic, or neuropathic pain. Studies have shown that pain affects up to 85% of people with PD, and it can impact their quality of life, mood, and mobility. The causes of pain in PD are complex and multifactorial, but they may include changes in the sensory processing and the central pain modulation system. The article also discusses the management of pain in PD, which may involve medications, physical therapy, exercise, and other interventions.

Defeat Parkinson’s.

Dystonia & Parkinson’s Disease

Painful contractions, known as dystonia, can make life for Parkinson’s Disease patients difficult. Dystonia is a movement disorder that can occur in PD and other neurological conditions. Dystonia is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. It can affect different parts of the body, such as the neck, face, arms, or legs, and it can be painful and disabling. The causes of dystonia may involve abnormalities in the basal ganglia, a brain region that is affected in PD. Diagnosis and treatment of dystonia in PD may involve medications, botulinum toxin injections, deep brain stimulation, or physical therapy.

Washington University, St. Louis.

Bladder and Bowel Problems

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the degeneration of nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a decrease in dopamine, a chemical that helps to control movement. However, dopamine also plays a role in regulating the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions like bladder and bowel control. As a result, people with Parkinson’s disease may experience bladder and bowel problems due to disruptions in this system. Additionally, the muscles that control these functions may become weaker over time, contributing to difficulties with urinary and bowel continence. These issues can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort for those affected, but they can be managed with the right approach. Treatment options may include medication, pelvic floor exercises, and dietary changes.


Speech and Communication Difficulties

Parkinson’s disease can affect not only movement but also speech and swallowing, which can have a significant impact on quality of life. One of the most isolating symptoms in PD is speech and communication problems. As the disease progresses, the muscles responsible for speech and swallowing can become weaker and less coordinated, leading to difficulties with articulation, voice projection, and eating. These symptoms can be managed with various therapies, such as speech therapy and dietary changes, as well as medications that help to improve muscle control.

News Medical.

Orthostatic Hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension is a common problem experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease. It is a sudden drop in blood pressure that occurs when standing up from a sitting or lying position, which can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and even fainting. This can be particularly dangerous for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, who may be at an increased risk of falls and other injuries. Orthostatic hypotension can be managed with lifestyle changes such as drinking more fluids, increasing salt intake, and avoiding sudden changes in position. There are also medications available that can help to regulate blood pressure and improve symptoms.


Freezing of Gait

Freezing of gait is a common and frustrating symptom of Parkinson’s disease that affects mobility and balance. It occurs when a person suddenly feels as though their feet are stuck to the ground and they are unable to take a step forward. This can lead to falls and injuries, and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. The exact cause of freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease is not fully understood. However, it is thought to be related to the changes in the brain that occur as a result of the disease. Parkinson’s disease affects the dopamine-producing cells in the brain, which play a crucial role in regulating movement. As the disease progresses, these cells become damaged, leading to a decrease in dopamine levels. This can cause a range of motor symptoms, including tremors, rigidity, and difficulty initiating movement, which can contribute to freezing of gait. Additionally, freezing of gait can be triggered by environmental factors such as narrow doorways, crowds, or anxiety.


Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common condition that affects many people with Parkinson’s disease. It is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs, which is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations such as tingling, burning, or crawling. RLS can cause significant sleep disturbances, which can in turn worsen other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. When dopamine levels are low, it can lead to a range of motor symptoms, including tremors and stiffness, as well as non-motor symptoms such as sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety. RLS may be related to dopamine dysfunction in the brain, although the exact mechanisms are not well understood. Additionally, RLS may be caused by other factors such as iron deficiency, peripheral neuropathy, or medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

VeryWell Living.

Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis, is a common problem experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease. It can be caused by several factors, including medication side effects, changes in the nervous system, and changes in the body’s thermoregulatory system. Excessive sweating can be particularly problematic for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, as it can contribute to skin irritation, dehydration, and social embarrassment. Treatment options for excessive sweating may include lifestyle changes such as avoiding triggers, wearing light and breathable clothing, and using antiperspirants. In some cases, medication adjustments or surgical interventions may be necessary. With the right management, many people with Parkinson’s disease can successfully manage excessive sweating and improve their quality of life.

Medical Xpress.

Vision Changes

Visual symptoms are common in Parkinson’s disease and can include blurred vision, double vision, and difficulty with depth perception. These symptoms can be caused by several factors, including changes in the nervous system, medication side effects, and eye problems. Parkinson’s disease affects the brain’s ability to process visual information, which can lead to difficulties with visual perception and processing. Additionally, some medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease can cause blurred vision or dry eyes, which can worsen visual symptoms. Eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are also more common in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. It’s important for individuals with Parkinson’s disease to receive regular eye exams and to inform their healthcare provider if they are experiencing any visual symptoms. Treatment options for visual symptoms may include medication adjustments, vision therapy, or surgical interventions.

Daily Express.

Skin Changes & Parkinson’s Disease

Changes in the skin are a common and aggravating symptom experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease. These changes can include dry skin, oily skin, itching, and changes in pigmentation. The exact cause of these skin changes is not fully understood, but they are thought to be related to changes in the nervous system and to medication side effects. Parkinson’s disease can affect the autonomic nervous system, which regulates many bodily functions including skin moisture and temperature regulation. Additionally, some medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease can cause skin changes or allergic reactions. It’s important for individuals with Parkinson’s disease to inform their healthcare provider if they are experiencing any skin changes, so they can receive appropriate care and support. Treatment options for skin changes may include moisturizers, medicated creams, and lifestyle changes such as avoiding triggers.

Daily Express.

Difficulty with Fine Motor Skills

This is probably the symptom that is most commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease. PD causes tremors due to the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain, specifically in an area called the substantia nigra. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that helps regulate movement and coordination, and when there is a lack of dopamine, it leads to abnormal activity in the part of the brain that controls movement. This abnormal activity can result in the tremors and other movement problems that are characteristic of Parkinson’s disease. The tremors in Parkinson’s usually start in one hand or arm and can spread to other parts of the body over time. While not all people with Parkinson’s experience tremors, they are a common symptom of the disease.

Parkinson’s Foundation.

Mood and Behavioral Changes

Parkinson’s disease is not solely a physical disease. It can also lead to behavioral and mood changes. These changes can include increased anxiety, irritability, and withdrawal from social situations, as well as difficulty controlling impulses such as gambling or overeating. These non-motor symptoms can significantly impact the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s. The loss of dopamine in the brain and the use of certain medications to treat Parkinson’s may contribute to these behavior changes. Another potential reason for these types of changes could be attributed to the challenges that PD patients face. It is wise to also consult a mental healthcare professional. This can help in coping with these difficult life changes the symptoms cause.

Parkinson’s Foundation.

Impulse Control Issues

This article from the American Parkinson Disease Association discusses impulse control disorders (ICDs) in Parkinson’s disease. ICDs are a group of behaviors that include compulsive gambling, overeating, hypersexuality, and other excessive behaviors that can occur in people with Parkinson’s who are being treated with dopamine agonist medication. The article describes the symptoms of ICDs and how they can impact a person’s life, as well as the risk factors for developing ICDs. It also provides information on how to manage and treat ICDs in people with Parkinson’s, including reducing or changing dopamine agonist medication and seeking counseling or other behavioral therapies. The article emphasizes the importance of discussing any changes in behavior with a healthcare provider and working together to find the best treatment approach for the individual.

Parkinson’s Foundation.

Saliva Production

Drooling is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease and occurs due to changes in the muscles of the mouth and throat. Parkinson’s can cause difficulty swallowing, decreased facial muscle control, and decreased saliva control, all of which can contribute to drooling. While drooling can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, it is usually not a serious medical issue. There are several strategies that can help manage drooling in Parkinson’s, such as maintaining good oral hygiene, taking medication to reduce saliva production, and practicing certain exercises to strengthen the muscles in the mouth and throat.


Where Do We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:…movement-symptoms/drooling…/impulse-control-disorders…/parkinsons-behavior-changes…/speech-swallowing-problems…/pain-parkinsons-disease