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10 Lesser-Known Parkinson's Disease Symptoms

10 Lesser-Known Parkinson's Disease Symptoms

Before you or a loved one was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, you may have only been familiar with the tremor symptom.

Unfortunately, the disease brings with it a range of symptoms, some visible and many not.

Lack of awareness around certain symptoms can delay diagnosis. For people with Parkinson's, it can sometimes be difficult to tell when symptoms are a part of Parkinson's disease or from something else.

And if you're not aware that something is a Parkinson's symptom, you may also not be aware that it can be treated.

It can be overwhelming to hear about a symptom you weren't aware of yet, but as always, knowledge is power. If you're experiencing a new symptom and you're not sure if it's related to Parkinson's, ask your doctor. It may be another part of a complex disease that researchers are always learning more about.

1. Sleep disorders. Several different sleeping problems can be part of Parkinson's disease, including insomnia, daytime sleepiness and REM behavior disorder.

2. Depression and anxiety. Depression isn't just a natural reaction to a difficult diagnosis. It's also a common symptom of the disease itself.

3. Voice volume. Parkinson's can cause slurred speech and a quieter voice. People with Parkinson's who sing may also find that their musical side is affected, too. A speech therapist, especially through the LSVT LOUD program, can help this symptom. Singing in a choir or on your own can also help strengthen your voice.

4. Smell loss. The majority of people with Parkinson's disease experience some smell loss. Though many people with smell loss do not develop Parkinson's, it seems to be the first symptom for many who do.

5. Cognitive issues. Not everyone with Parkinson's experiences symptoms of cognitive impairment, but they may include memory loss, difficulty multi-tasking or problems concentrating. The symptoms can range from mild cognitive impairment to Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD).

6. Orthostatic hypotension is a drop in blood pressure when changing positions, such as moving from sitting to standing that's also a non-motor symptom of Parkinson's disease. Orthostatic hypotension may cause lightheadedness and dizziness.

7. Dystonia. Both a Parkinson's disease symptom and the third-most common movement disorder, it's characterized by painful, prolonged muscle contractions. 

8. Facial masking. Bradykinesia is a slowing down and/or loss of spontaneous and voluntary movement. You may move more slowly in general or swing one arm less while walking. You may also be able to show less facial expression, which is referred to as facial masking.

9. Fatigue and apathy. Many people with Parkinson's experience these frustrating symptoms. Fatigue can also result from the sleep problems associated with Parkinson's disease. If you struggle with fatigue, tackle it with these tips from our community.

10. Medication side effects. While not a symptom itself, many are unaware of the side effects Parkinson's disease medication can sometimes have. Use of levodopa can lead to dyskinesia, which can be described as smooth tics. 

Dopamine agonists have been linked with impulsive behavior. New data supports more substantial warnings for these drugs.

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