Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder resulting from nerve cell damage. Cells in the brain that produce dopamine – necessary for the smooth control of muscles – are damaged in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms, and the progression of symptoms, vary between people. The disease generally occurs in people over 65; however, may occur earlier. Some symptoms – loss of smell, constipation, sleep disorders – may be evident years before diagnosis.

Motor Symptoms may include:

  • muscle rigidity or stiffness
  • slowing of movement
  • stooped posture
  • balance problems (falls in later stage of disease)
  • tremor or shaking – usually begins in one arm, hand, foot

Non-Motor Symptoms (not related to movement) may include:

  • cognitive changes – dementia, memory difficulties, personality changes, and changes in ability to think and reason
  • constipation and gastrointestinal issues
  • cramping
  • drop in blood pressure – rising from lying or sitting position
  • excessive salivation
  • fatigue
  • handwriting changes (smaller in height and written words may be unclear by end of sentence)
  • loss of smell
  • mental health issues including hallucinations and delusions
  • mood disorders including anxiety, apathy and depression
  • sexual issues (including impotence)
  • sleep disorders including vivid dreams, excessive daytime sleepiness, REM sleep disorder (person acts out their dreams)
  • speech problems (e.g., like stuttering, decreased volume of speech)
  • swallowing difficulties
  • sweating and increased sensitivity to temperatures
  • urinary urgency, frequency and incontinence
  • visual disturbances

Learn more about this condition:

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