The Palm Beach Post,
According to the National Parkinson Foundation, more than 1.5 million people live with Parkinson's disease, and it is estimated thousands never get the proper diagnosis. They think they are just "getting old" or self-diagnose themselves with arthritis or other common afflictions associated with aging.
Diagnosis is half the battle. While there is no cure for Parkinson's, getting diagnosed is the most important step to getting the best treatment to ease symptoms and cope with the disease.
The NPF wants to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's:
- Shaking with the limb at rest.
- Slowness of movement.
- Rigidity (stiffness, increased resistance to passive movement) of the limbs or trunk.
- Poor balance (postural instability).
When at least two of these symptoms are present, and especially if they are more evident on one side than the other, a diagnosis of PD is made, unless there are atypical features that suggest an alternative diagnosis.
Patients may first realize something is wrong when they develop a tremor in a limb; movements are slowed and activities take longer to perform; or they experience stiffness and have balance problems. Initially, symptoms are a variable combination and typically begin on one side of the body and spread over time to the other side.
Other signs of Parkinson's disease may include small, cramped handwriting; stiff facial expression; shuffling walk; muffled speech, and depression.
More information about signs, symptoms, treatments and other resources is available online at www.parkinson.org.Note: Other diseases can be confused with Parkinson's, especially with side effects of medications commonly used to treat. For example, the little-known Lewy Body Disease. The NIH writes:
Lewy body disease is one of the most common causes of dementia in the elderly. Dementia is the loss of mental functions severe enough to affect normal activities and relationships. Lewy body disease happens when abnormal structures, called Lewy bodies, build up in areas of the brain. The disease may cause a wide range of symptoms, includingNIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Changes in alertness and attention
- Problems with movement and posture
- Muscle stiffness
- Loss of memory
Lewy body disease can be hard to diagnose, because Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease cause similar symptoms. Scientists think that Lewy body disease might be related to these diseases, or that they sometimes happen together.
Lewy body disease usually begins between the ages of 50 and 85. The disease gets worse over time. There is no cure. Treatment focuses on drugs to help symptoms.
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