Symptoms of Parkinson's DiseaseIn its fully developed form, Parkinson's disease is easy to recognize. However, Parkinson's and its symptoms are often subtle in the beginning and tend to progress slowly. So early symptoms of Parkinson's disease may last a long time before the more classic and obvious symptoms appear.
Often, the first noticeable sign of Parkinson's disease is a tremor. This characteristic symptom often begins on one side of the body, frequently in one hand. It is often more obvious during rest, and improves with activity. It may also affect the arms, legs, feet, jaw, face, eyelids, and tongue. After months or years, the tremor may become present in all limbs and on both sides of the body.
Other common symptoms of Parkinson's disease include:
- Stiffness in the limbs and trunk
- Slow movement
- Loss of spontaneous and automatic movement (such as swinging the arms when walking)
- A shuffling gait
- A stooped posture
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Fixed facial expressions
- Speaking in a soft voice.
As these Parkinson's disease symptoms become more pronounced, people may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks.
Parkinson's is both chronic, meaning it persists over a long time, and progressive, meaning its symptoms grow worse over time. It is not contagious, nor is it usually inherited -- that is, it does not pass directly from one family member or generation to the next.
Occasionally, Parkinson's disease also causes:
- Depression (see Parkinson's Disease and Depression)
- Personality changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Speech impairments
- Sexual difficulties.
(Click Parkinson's Disease Symptoms for more information.)