You Could Have Parkinsons Disease Symptoms In Your 30s Or 40s And Not Know It
Blog post | 11 Apr 2019
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Parkinson’s is only an older person’s disease.
Many people with Parkinson’s, a progressive disease of the nervous system, are indeed at retirement age. So the world was shocked when Back to The Future actor Michael J. Fox revealed he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at only 29 years old.
But Fox’s case isn’t unique. It’s believed that 1 in 10 people with Parkinson’s develop the disease some time before their 40th birthday. About 1 in 5 Australians with Parkinson’s are at ‘working age’ .
And a person can live with symptoms for many years before a diagnosis of Parkinson’s is made.
To mark World Parkinson’s Day, Thursday April 11, here’s what you need to know about the early signs of this insidious neurological disease.
Comparison With Other Neuronal Populations That Are Vulnerable In Pd
The neurons of the SN are not the only ones to be affected in PD , do these other neuronal populations show any similarities with the neurons of the SN? Changes have been reported to also occur in several other brain stem nuclei including the pedunculopontine nucleus , ventral tegmental area , the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve and the locus coeruleus . These neuronal populations show similarities with the neurons of the SN which may highlight not only their vulnerability in PD but also the processes key for the loss of SN neurons . The medium sized neurons of the LC, for example, contain neuromelanin, are noradrenaline containing, TH positive and show a loss of around 70% in PD . These neurons show alterations in the ultrastructure of their synaptic mitochondria in PD, suggesting mitochondrial alterations might occur within these neurons . There is also a reduction in the large cholinergic neurons of the PPN, 50% of these neurons have been reported to be lost in PD ). Interestingly LB pathology has been found in these neurons in both Lewy body disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but prominent cell loss was only found in LBD .
Therefore vulnerable neuronal populations show some characteristics which are common to those of SN neurons, suggesting that the unique mixture of these features within the SN contributes significantly to the development of PD.
Parkinson’s Before Age 50
When someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s before their 50th birthday, they have what’s called “early onset Parkinson’s disease.” Only about 5% to 10% of everyone with Parkinson’s has the early-onset form of the disease.
Only about 2% of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s are under the age of 40. However, it’s possible that doctors may overlook some people in that age group who actually have Parkinson’s since it’s so unusual to have it so young.
A very few people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s before their 20th birthdays. In these cases, the condition is called “juvenile Parkinson’s disease,” and it tends to run in families. Researchers have identified several genes that are linked to Parkinson’s.
People with early-onset Parkinson’s disease are more likely to have genetic factors that caused their condition. In addition, certain treatments including exercise may be more likely to help younger people with Parkinson’s, because their brains are younger.
Stewart A Factor, DO and William J Weiner, MD. Parkinsons Disease: Diagnosis and Clinical Management: Second Edition Edited by 2008 Demos Medical Publishing.
Don’t Miss: Sam Waterston Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s Disease Diet And Nutrition
Maintaining Your Weight With Parkinson’s Disease
Malnutrition and weight maintenance is often an issue for people with Parkinson’s disease. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Weigh yourself once or twice a week, unless your doctor recommends weighing yourself often. If you are taking diuretics or steroids, such as prednisone, you should weigh yourself daily.
- If you have an unexplained weight gain or loss , contact your doctor. He or she may want to modify your food or fluid intake to help manage your condition.
- Avoid low-fat or low-calorie products. . Use whole milk, whole milk cheese, and yogurt.
What You Can Do
As of 2021, there is no definite cure for Parkinsons disease. There is also no definite known cause. Its likely due to a combination of an individuals susceptibility and environmental factors. Most cases of Parkinsons disease happen without a genetic link.
According to research published in 2012, only report having a family member with the disease. Many toxins are suspected and have been studied, but no single substance can be reliably linked to Parkinsons.
However, research is ongoing. Its estimated that
Read Also: Parkinson’s Bike Therapy
Stage Five Of Parkinsons Disease
Stage five is the most advanced and is characterized by an inability to rise from a chair or get out of bed without help, they may have a tendency to fall when standing or turning, and they may freeze or stumble when walking.
Around-the-clock assistance is required at this stage to reduce the risk of falling and help the patient with all daily activities. At stage five, the patient may also experience hallucinations or delusions.
While the symptoms worsen over time, it is worth noting that some patients with PD never reach stage five. Also, the length of time to progress through the different stages varies from individual to individual. Not all the symptoms may occur in one individual either. For example, one person may have a tremor but balance remains intact. In addition, there are treatments available that can help at every stage of the disease. However, the earlier the diagnosis, and the earlier the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment is at alleviating symptoms.
How Can You Participate
Register and attend our monthly live YOPD Council sessions. They will be held on the third Thursday of every month starting July 18, 2020.
We have the following topics scheduled through the end of the year:
- Sex, Love, Dating & Parkinsons
- Work, Money, Meaning & Parkinsons
- Disability, Insurance & Parkinsons
- Exercise, Community & Parkinsons
- Mental Health, Death and Dying & Parkinsons
- Medications, Side Effects & Parkinsons
Submit questions for the live session or other YOPD topic ideas to Melani at
Read Also: On Off Phenomenon In Parkinson’s Disease
Medicines For Parkinsons Disease
Medicines prescribed for Parkinsons include:
- Drugs that increase the level of dopamine in the brain
- Drugs that affect other brain chemicals in the body
- Drugs that help control nonmotor symptoms
The main therapy for Parkinsons is levodopa, also called L-dopa. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine to replenish the brains dwindling supply. Usually, people take levodopa along with another medication called carbidopa. Carbidopa prevents or reduces some of the side effects of levodopa therapysuch as nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and restlessnessand reduces the amount of levodopa needed to improve symptoms.
People with Parkinsons should never stop taking levodopa without telling their doctor. Suddenly stopping the drug may have serious side effects, such as being unable to move or having difficulty breathing.
Other medicines used to treat Parkinsons symptoms include:
- Dopamine agonists to mimic the role of dopamine in the brain
- MAO-B inhibitors to slow down an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the brain
- COMT inhibitors to help break down dopamine
- Amantadine, an old antiviral drug, to reduce involuntary movements
- Anticholinergic drugs to reduce tremors and muscle rigidity
What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Symptoms of Parkinsons disease and the rate of decline vary widely from person to person. The most common symptoms include:
Other symptoms include:
- Speech/vocal changes: Speech may be quick, become slurred or be soft in tone. You may hesitate before speaking. The pitch of your voice may become unchanged .
- Handwriting changes: You handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Sleeping disturbances including disrupted sleep, acting out your dreams, and restless leg syndrome.
- Pain, lack of interest , fatigue, change in weight, vision changes.
- Low blood pressure.
Recommended Reading: Does Vitamin B12 Help Parkinson’s
How Many People Does Parkinsons Disease Affect
Parkinsons disease affects 1 in every 500 people in Canada. Over 100,000 Canadians are living with Parkinsons today and approximately 6,600 new cases of PD are diagnosed each year in Canada . Most are diagnosed over the age of 60 however, at least 10% of the Parkinsons population develops symptoms before the age of 50. Approximately four million people worldwide are living with the condition.
Finding A Supportive Community
Dr. Gilbert said its also important for people with Parkinsons especially those with early-onset disease to find comfort and a sense of community from people like themselves. She recommends visiting the APDA website for information on local chapters and information and referral centers that can help people find local resources and support groups for those with early-onset PD.
is another APDA resource and is a good way to learn how others with early-onset PD like, Katja, diagnosed at age 46 deal with their challenges. Additional insights for those with young-onset disease and their loved ones can be found in a recent APDA Dr. Gilbert Hosts online conversation in which she spoke with four inspiring individuals who are living with the disease.
Their stories show the power of peer support, the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, and the promise of a path forward for a fruitful life as they live with PD, Dr. Gilbert said.
Since 2013, RWHC has featured compelling content on health care issues affecting Americans. From features on the people, programs and products changing the way health care is delivered, to interviews with leading researchers and clinicians, to profiles of patient advocacy organizations, RWHC has provided valuable insights and information to those interested in both the current state and the future of health care.
2021 Blog Series
Don’t Miss: Voice Amplifiers For Parkinson’s
Early Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Can Be Overlooked
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are divided into 2 groups: motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms.
Early non-motor symptoms can be subtle and it’s possible to overlook them as signs of Parkinson’s: for example, anxiety and depression, fatigue, loss of smell, speech problems, difficulty sleeping, erectile dysfunction, incontinence and constipation. Another sign of Parkinson’s is handwriting that becomes smaller.
Motor symptoms of Parkinson’s can include tremor , slowness of movement , muscle rigidity and instability .
It’s possible for non-motor symptoms to start occurring up to a decade before any motor symptoms emerge. Years can pass before symptoms are obvious enough to make a person to go to the doctor.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to Parkinson’s disease different people will experience different symptoms, and of varying severity. One in 3 people, for example, won’t experience tremor.
On average, 37 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every day in Australia. Parkinson’s Australia
Can Parkinsons Disease Be Prevented
Unfortunately, no. Parkinsons disease is long-term disease that worsens over time. Although there is no way to prevent or cure the disease , medications may significantly relieve your symptoms. In some patients especially those with later-stage disease, surgery to improve symptoms may be an option.
Don’t Miss: On Off Phenomenon
Stage Four Of Parkinsons Disease
In stage four, PD has progressed to a severely disabling disease. Patients with stage four PD may be able to walk and stand unassisted, but they are noticeably incapacitated. Many use a walker to help them.
At this stage, the patient is unable to live an independent life and needs assistance with some activities of daily living. The necessity for help with daily living defines this stage. If the patient is still able to live alone, it is still defined as stage three.
How Do I Prevent Falls From Common Hazards
- Floors: Remove all loose wires, cords, and throw rugs. Minimize clutter. Make sure rugs are anchored and smooth. Keep furniture in its usual place.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars and non-skid tape in the tub or shower. Use non-skid bath mats on the floor or install wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Lighting: Make sure halls, stairways, and entrances are well-lit. Install a night light in your bathroom or hallway and staircase. Turn lights on if you get up in the middle of the night. Make sure lamps or light switches are within reach of the bed if you have to get up during the night.
- Kitchen: Install non-skid rubber mats near the sink and stove. Clean spills immediately.
- Stairs: Make sure treads, rails, and rugs are secure. Install a rail on both sides of the stairs. If stairs are a threat, it might be helpful to arrange most of your activities on the lower level to reduce the number of times you must climb the stairs.
- Entrances and doorways: Install metal handles on the walls adjacent to the doorknobs of all doors to make it more secure as you travel through the doorway.
You May Like: Does Sam Waterston Have Parkinsons
What Is The Outlook For Persons With Parkinsons Disease
Although there is no cure or absolute evidence of ways to prevent Parkinsons disease, scientists are working hard to learn more about the disease and find innovative ways to better manage it, prevent it from progressing and ultimately curing it.
Currently, you and your healthcare teams efforts are focused on medical management of your symptoms along with general health and lifestyle improvement recommendations . By identifying individual symptoms and adjusting the course of action based on changes in symptoms, most people with Parkinsons disease can live fulfilling lives.
The future is hopeful. Some of the research underway includes:
- Using stem cells to produce new neurons, which would produce dopamine.
- Producing a dopamine-producing enzyme that is delivered to a gene in the brain that controls movement.
- Using a naturally occurring human protein glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor, GDNF to protect dopamine-releasing nerve cells.
Many other investigations are underway too. Much has been learned, much progress has been made and additional discoveries are likely to come.
How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated
There is no cure for Parkinsons disease. However, medications and other treatments can help relieve some of your symptoms. Exercise can help your Parkinsons symptoms significantly. In addition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy can help with walking and balance problems, eating and swallowing challenges and speech problems. Surgery is an option for some patients.
Don’t Miss: Parkinson’s Double Vision
Stage One Of Parkinsons Disease
In stage one, the earliest stage, the symptoms of PD are mild and only seen on one side of the body , and there is usually minimal or no functional impairment.
The symptoms of PD at stage one may be so mild that the person doesnt seek medical attention or the physician is unable to make a diagnosis. Symptoms at stage one may include tremor, such as intermittent tremor of one hand, rigidity, or one hand or leg may feel more clumsy than another, or one side of the face may be affected, impacting the expression.
This stage is very difficult to diagnose and a physician may wait to see if the symptoms get worse over time before making a formal diagnosis.
What Are The Primary Motor Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
There are four primary motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease: tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability . Observing two or more of these symptoms is the main way that physicians diagnose Parkinsons.
It is important to know that not all of these symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of Parkinsons disease to be considered. In fact, younger people may only notice one or two of these motor symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. Not everyone with Parkinsons disease has a tremor, nor is a tremor proof of Parkinsons. If you suspect Parkinsons, see a neurologist or movement disorders specialist.
Also Check: Fitflop Shoes For Parkinson’s
Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
You can attribute the symptoms of Parkinson’s to a deficiency of a chemical in your brain called dopamine. The four classic motor symptoms of Parkinson’s include:
Shaking and tremors while you are resting is typically the first sign of Parkinson’s disease, but about one-third of patients won’t experience those symptoms. These symptoms tend to be worsened by emotional and physical stress. Sleep or moving can help reduce these issues.
Parkinson’s disease is both chronic and progressive with symptoms generally getting worse as time goes on. As it progresses, other disabilities can develop, including:
- Difficulty talking and swallowing
- A sudden inability to move,
Some sufferers also have symptoms that don’t affect their motor skills, including:
- Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and memory loss
- Loss of smell
- Trouble sleeping, including thrashing and other sudden movements
- Change in blood pressure
When Do You Start Medication For Parkinsons
According to this research, levodopa is unlikely to affect the progression of Parkinsons disease in the first year and a half following diagnosis. Symptoms had improved to the same extent by 80 weeks and side effects were similar, suggesting people can start treatment as early as they need to for symptomatic relief.
Also Check: Whats The Difference Between Parkinsons And Ms
You May Like: Diseases Similar To Parkinsons
How Fast Does Parkinsons Progress
Doing your best to remain healthy and strong is key for everyone with Parkinsons disease. Research has shown that following certain lifestyle modifications can help you accomplish two important goals: Better control symptoms. Slow progression of the condition. Diet modifications and a focus on. Parkinsons Disease Is a Progressive Disorder. Parkinsons Disease is a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects movement and, in some cases, cognition. Individuals with PD may have a slightly shorter life span compared to healthy individuals of the same age group email article. WASHINGTON Azilect , which is already approved to treat symptoms of Parkinsons disease, does not appear effective at slowing progression of the neurodegenerative.
Our goals when prescribing medications for Parkinsons disease are twofold: to improve day-to-day functioning and quality of life and to keep people functioning as long as possible. Hopefully, your physician has the same goals in mind for you Parkinsons UK 215 Vauxhall Bridge Road London SW1V 1EJ. Tel: 020 7931 8080. Parkinsons UK is the operating name of the Parkinsons Disease Society of the United Kingdom. A registered charity in England and Wales and in Scotland
Dont Miss: Is Parkinsons A Form Of Cancer