PD symptoms appear gradually and slowly get worse Table 01. Often, the first symptom is a hand tremor that occurs while resting. The tremor lessens when you move your hand, and usually disappears during sleep. This may be the only symptom you have for months or even years.
The tremor is slow and rhythmic, and can get worse with stress and fatigue. It often is described as a “pill-rolling” motion of the thumb and forefinger. In most cases, the tremor will eventually spread to the other hand and the arms and legs, as well as to the mouth and chin.
Table 1. Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
Tremor when at rest Sluggish initiation of movements Slow movements Muscle stiffness
If you have PD, you will have stiff muscles and slow movements. These symptoms can make it difficult for you to perform many activities. For example, sitting down in a chair and getting up from a sitting position will become difficult. Your handwriting may become illegible, and it may become difficult for you to wash and dress yourself.
People with PD walk with a shuffle and a posture that gradually tilts forward. If you have PD, you may have a short-stepped rapid gait that propels you forward and increases your risk of falling. You may also have difficulty turning and stopping while walking.
PD causes loss of facial animation, which leads to an expressionless look. If you have PD you may have widely opened eyes, and may blink more slowly than normal. You may also have slowed swallowing and soft, monotonous speech.
Your risk for Parkinson's disease increases with age. While only 1 or 2 of every 1,000 people in the general population have PD, 1 in 100 people older than 50 and 2.5 in 100 over the age of seventy have the condition.
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