Lesser known symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Rajeev K Gupta sheds light on some lesser-known symptoms of Parkinson's disease that cause patients to retreat and give up social activities, which only makes matters worse
Last Updated : 17 April 2023, 06:34 IST

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The movement problems or movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (gait, posture, balance, fine motor functions, etc.) are obvious and simple to recognise. Many additional, less well-known symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be highly uncomfortable, if not downright incapacitating.

Some of these symptoms are so humiliating for people with Parkinson’s (PWP) that many PWPs quit socialising and withdraw, which makes their disease worse. These lesser-known PD symptoms include.

Sleep disorders

According to doctors, RBD (REM Sleep Behaviour condition), along with insomnia, is a typical sleep condition in people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). A person acts out their dreams in RBD. People yell, hit, and kick since these nightmares frequently include being pursued or attacked. Normally, during REM, the brain suppresses muscular movement. RBD causes disruption in the brain networks that control muscle action, allowing patients to move to act out their dreams.

Facial masking

Facial masking, sometimes referred to as hypomimia in medicine, causes an expressionless visage. Similar to the muscles used for movement, other muscles, such as the face muscle, also become slower, making it more challenging and time-consuming for a PWP to perform basic facial expressions like smiling and raising an eyebrow. With the progression of the illness, these symptoms appear gradually. Body language and facial emotions are important in interpersonal communication.

Speech problems

Reduced volume, a narrower range of pitches or monotone, and difficulty articulating sounds are the three most typical speech issues that PD sufferers have. Basically, you can’t speak as loudly as others, you have a harder time expressing emotion when you do speak, and you have trouble forming the words you’re trying to say.

Difficulty in swallowing

Difficulty swallowing, called dysphagia, usually starts mildly with issues such as taking a long time to eat a meal or coughing at mealtimes. It can progress over time to become a critical PD symptom. In the beginning, it may just be difficulty swallowing certain foods or liquids, coughing or throat clearing during or after eating/drinking and feeling as if food is getting stuck. As the disease progresses, swallowing can become severely compromised and food/liquid can get into the lungs, causing aspiration (when food or liquid “goes down the wrong pipe”).

(The writer is a PD patient and an author.)

Published 15 April 2023, 18:48 IST

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