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Non-Movement Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is generally thought of as a disease that only involves movement. But in addition to motor symptoms such as slowness of movement, tremor Involuntary shaking of the hands, arms, legs, jaw or tongue. The typical Parkinson’s tremor is “pill-rolling” – it looks like holding a pill between thumb and forefinger and continuously rolling it around. Some people report an internal tremor, a shaking sensation inside the chest, abdomen or limbs that cannot be seen. Most Parkinson’s tremor is “resting tremor,” which lessens during sleep and when the body part is actively in use., stiffness and postural instability Impaired balance and the tendency to fall without explanation, usually when pivoting; a common symptom in the later stages of Parkinson’s., most people develop other health problems related to Parkinson's. These symptoms are diverse and collectively known as non-motor symptoms.

While family and friends may not be able to see these symptoms, it is important to realize that non-motor symptoms are common and can be more troublesome and disabling than motor symptoms. Some symptoms, such as loss of smell, constipation, depression A mood disorder whose symptoms can include a persistent sad or empty mood, feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, irritability and loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. and REM sleep behavior disorder can occur years before the diagnosis of PD.

Non-motor symptoms can include:

  • Cognitive changes: problems with attention, planning, language, memory or even dementiaA term used to describe a group of brain disorders that cause a broad complex of symptoms such as disorientation, confusion, memory loss, impaired judgment and alterations in mood and personality.
  • Constipation
  • Early satiety: feeling of fullness after eating small amounts
  • Excessive sweating, often when wearing off medications
  • Fatigue
  • Increase in dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis)
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Lightheadedness (orthostatic hypotension): drop in blood pressure when standing
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety A feeling of nervousness, worried thoughts and physical distress., apathy and irritability
  • Pain
  • Sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction
  • Sleep disorders, such as insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness A chronic condition characterized by difficulty staying awake or paying attention; may be due to underlying sleep disorders, depression or some medications. (EDS), REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), vivid dreams, Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) A sleep disorder in which an uncomfortable or creepy-crawly feeling occurs in the legs while at rest, primarily at night, and causes an irresistible urge to move the legs.
  • Urinary urgency, frequency and incontinenceInvoluntary urination or defecation.
  • Vision problems, especially when attempting to read items up close
  • Weight loss

Page reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Spears, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence.

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