Here are 5 secret symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease every family caregiver and health care professional should know:
- Loss of smell – Early in the course of the disease, many people with PD report a loss of olfaction or sense of smell. This happens slowly without the patient noticing and may occur several years before diagnosis. Difficulty detecting and discerning different odors is typically reported.
- R.E.M sleep disturbances – Sleep problems are common for many people with Parkinson’s Disease. This can include difficulty falling and staying asleep (insomnia) as well as a more serious sleep problem known as R.E.M sleep behavior disorder. People with RBD experience vivid dreams and nightmares, often acting out their dreams causing self-inflicted injuries or hurting a partner by kicking, choking, or punching. In later stages of the disease, patients report leg stiffness at nighttime, frequent urination, and (no surprise) daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
- Urinary incontinence – Problems with the autonomic nervous system, which controls unconscious or automatic bodily functions (heart rate, respiration, etc), are more pronounced for persons with advanced Parkinsonism. As a result, bladder control and urinary incontinence can be an issue for PD sufferers. Lightheadedness upon standing and dizziness often occur due to poor blood pressure regulation. Trouble swallowing, abnormal sweating, and sexual dysfunction are common as well.
- Mood and mental problems – Because PD is related to alterations in brain chemicals, depression affects nearly half of those with Parkinson’s Disease and worsens with the progressing course of the illness. Common symptoms include loss of interest in activities, and decreased pleasures; panic attacks and excessive worry are also common.
- Pain – Over 40% of persons with Parkinson’s Disease report painful sensations across the body including, stabbing, burning, and tingling. Pain often accompanies the motor symptoms and can be reported in different areas such as the face, abdomen, and joints