TWO Brits are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every hour.
But just how many of us know much about the debilitating condition? Not very many, experts have warned.
Getty – Contributor Do you know the early symptoms of Parkinson’s?
In fact, half of us can’t spot a crucial early sign and nearly 80 per cent of us don’t think we’d be able to spot a symptom in a loved one.
Recognising signs means accessing help sooner – which is important for the management of Parkinson’s.
It can also be pretty terrifying having things happen to you without knowing exactly what’s wrong.
And that’s why it’s crucial everyone knows the signs.Two types of symptoms
The signs of Parkinson’s disease fall into two categories: motor and non-motor.
It’s important to remember that not everyone will experience all symptoms and that some of them are common to many different conditions – not everyone who experiences them will have Parkinson’s.
There are three main motor signs:
There are different types of tremors, from body parts trembling to muscle spasms.
The most common is called a “Parkinson’s tremor” – and that tends to look like you’re rolling a pill between your thumb and index finger.
We all get stiff now and again but this kind is so tight that some might not be able to swing their arms, turn around or write properly.
Bradykinesia is the medical term for slowness of movement and that can mean anything from walking with short, shuffling steps, finding it takes longer to do thins
Other sign scan include falls and dizziness, freezing and muscle cramps.
But Parkinson’s isn’t just a physical illness.
It can come with a tonne of non-visible issues too which don’t affect a person’s movement but do significantly reduce their life quality.
Non-motor symptoms can include:
low blood pressure
bladder and bowel problems
difficulty swallowing and poor saliva control
poor dental health
memory and thinking problems
hallucinations and delusions
According to a recent nationwide survey by home care provider Cera, only 22 per cent of people are confident in how much they know about Parkinson’s symptoms.
Nearly 50 per cent of people were unable to identify the common Parkinson’s Disease symptom of someone’s handwriting getting smaller.
Similarly, 64 per cent were wrong in their assumption that those with early-stage Parkinson’s would be unable to complete simple day to day tasks, whereas in fact, people in the first stages of the illness can still lead relatively normal lives.
Three surprising symptoms
According to a recent survey, lots of people are confused around how handwriting, daily tasks and mental health are affected by Parkinson’s.
Did you know that handwriting becoming smaller is an early sign of the condition?
In fact, this is quite common.
This is called Micrographia and is where the handwriting becomes unusually small and cramped. It can happen quite quickly or progressively.
It’s an important symptom to spot in the early stages and could be vital in ensuring your loved one is diagnosed as early as possible.
At home care provider Cera also found that nearly two-thirds of people think that even in the early stages, day-to-day tasks are impossible.
That’s not true.
Early on, most tasks aren’t affected that much – it’s a progressive disease. And even by stage 4, many are still able to live independently.
Over half of those surveyed had no idea that hallucinations were a common feature of late-stage Parkinson’s.
Two people are diagnosed every hour
Sarah McEwan from Cera said: “Parkinson’s is a disease that impacts the lives of thousands of people in the UK.
“And while it continues to affect families day in day out, it’s clear that people often struggle to pick up on some of the early signs of the condition. While there may be an understanding around core symptoms such as tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement, there is a distinct lack of knowledge around other key early indicators.
“Handwriting getting smaller is very common, but it’s often missed by family members who don’t know what to look out for.
“World Parkinson’s Day is a fantastic way of raising awareness of this illness and letting people know what symptoms to look out for and what they can do to help a loved one with Parkinson’s Disease”.
World Parkinson’s Day is on 11 April and it hopes to raise awareness of the condition.
Dominic Graham, the European Parkinson’s Disease Association’s Operation Director said: “Parkinson’s is a complex and individual condition, with several motor and non-motor symptoms that are too often unknown to the general public.
“April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and all the world celebrates World Parkinson’s Day on 11 April.
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“As EPDA, on World Parkinson’s Day 2017 we launched the #UniteForParkinsons campaign, for the global Parkinson’s community to speak with one voice, and in 2018 we produced together with Parkinson’s UK a powerful video to show the world what Parkinson’s truly is.
“This year, we are carrying forward the #UniteForParkinsons awareness call and supporting the #UNITED campaign launched by a group of young-onset people with Parkinson’s – we urge everyone to get onboard with these awareness initiatives, show their support and learn more about the different aspects of Parkinson’s”.
If you want more info on how to care for someone with Parkinson’s, check out Cera’s blog on the subject here.
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