World Parkinson’s Day 2024: Know The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Parkinsons

(By Dr. Kuldeep Shetty, Consultant Neurology, Narayana Health City, Bangalore)

There are lesser-known symptoms that may precede the onset of Parkinson’s disease by many years. While tremors and movement difficulties are commonly associated with Parkinson’s, lesser-known manifestations such as constipation, sleep disorders, and loss of smell warrant attention due to their potential significance as early indicators.

Constipation: A Gut Feeling

Constipation, characterised by infrequent or difficult bowel movements, may seem unrelated to Parkinson’s disease at first glance. However, emerging research suggests a potential link between gastrointestinal dysfunction and the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s. The progressive degeneration of nerves in the gut may precede motor symptoms, highlighting the importance of recognising constipation as a possible harbinger of Parkinson’s.

Sleep Disorder: Disrupted Rest

Sleep disturbances, including insomnia, fragmented sleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness, can significantly impact overall well-being and quality of life. In Parkinson’s disease, sleep disorders often arise due to disruptions in the brain’s regulation of sleep-wake cycles. REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), characterised by vivid dreams and acting out during sleep, may precede motor symptoms by years and is associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Loss of Smell: Scent of Concern

Anosmia, or loss of smell, may be an early manifestation of Parkinson’s disease, predating motor symptoms by several years. The olfactory dysfunction in Parkinson’s is attributed to the degeneration of nerve cells in the olfactory bulb, affecting the perception of smells. Individuals may experience a diminished sense of taste and appetite, impacting their nutritional intake and overall enjoyment of food.

These uncommon symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can affect individuals differently due to the heterogeneous nature of the condition. While some may experience mild constipation or occasional sleep disturbances, others may face more pronounced and debilitating symptoms. Additionally, individual variability in the progression and severity of Parkinson’s further contributes to the diverse impact of these early indicators.

Early recognition and proactive management of these symptoms are essential for timely intervention and improved outcomes in Parkinson’s disease. Awareness of the potential significance of constipation, sleep disorders, and loss of smell, can ensure early evaluation and access appropriate care, ultimately enhancing their quality of life on their journey with Parkinson’s.

[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal and do not
reflect the opinions, beliefs, and views of ABP News Network Pvt Ltd.]

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