Parkinson's Awareness Month: 30 Days-30 Stories/ Day Eight-Symptoms, Meds and Side Effects

Yesterday was about what is Parkinson’s Disease. Today we’ll look at symptoms, treatments and side effects. No one promised it would all be fun.

One of the early signs of PD is a change in handwriting. It gets smaller and cramped. Very hard to read.

The most recognizable sign is tremors. It starts as a small twitch in a finger. As the disease progresses it worsens.

Two of the other symptoms are slowness of movement and rigidity. The slowness is pretty self-explanatory. It just takes some time to complete a task. Rigidity is the stiffness of muscles leading to joint pain.

Then there’s postural instability or impaired balance. With this symptom, up to 40% of PD patients suffer falls. 10% fall weekly.

Other symptoms include speech and swallowing difficulties. There’s also constipation, daytime drowsiness and depression.

Not a pretty picture is it? The good news is most PD patients don’t have all these symptoms. Having a few of them is bad enough.

Most of these symptoms can be treated with medications. The two main meds are Levodopa and Dopamine agonists. They work pretty well at containing the symptoms, but they won’t cure them. At this point nothing will. In some cases surgery or brain stimulation can be used.

A problem with the meds is in a lot of cases it has side effects. Sometimes the side effects are worse than the symptoms.

Let’s start with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Would you rather have that or be bloated and constipated? Tough call.

Next is delusion, confusion and hallucinations. Sounds like every day life in the 1970’s.

My personal favorites are the development of compulsive behavior. Name an addiction and it’s there. Gambling, drugs, alcohol and sex.

I’m really intrigued by the sexual side effect. Having Parkinson’s lowers your sex drive. Plus some of the symptoms make having sex difficult. Suddenly you take a medicine and you’re craving it all the time. it’s like being a teenager again.

So that’s it…oh wait, i did forget one thing. A person with Parkinson’s has a two to six time higher risk of developing dementia than the rest of the general population.

Okay….that’s it for today. If you want more info just Google, Parkinson’s Disease and there are thousands of sites and articles. Also check out the websites and Facebook pages of The Michael J. Fox Foundation and The National Parkinson Foundation.

Tomorrow- A story of obsession


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