Parkinson's Disease: Parkinson's Early Symptoms
DescriptionAn in-depth report on the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of Parkinson's Disease
Diagnosis of Parkinson's Early Symptoms
It is difficult to diagnose Parkinson's in early stages. At this time the disease is diagnosed almost primarily by its symptoms, and studies indicate that physicians make an incorrect initial diagnosis of Parkinson's disease in between 8% and 35% of cases. Even general neurologists have difficulties in correctly identifying the disease. Researchers are hopeful that objective and simple blood or imaging tests will be available in the near future to identify the disease early in its development.
Medical and Personal History
A medical and personal history should include any relevant symptoms as well as any medications being taken, and exposure to environmental toxins is very important.
Diagnosing by Symptoms
Parkinson's Early Symptoms. Early treatment may help slow progression, so an early diagnosis of Parkinson's is highly desirable. Parkinson's early symptoms are often mild however, so Parkinson's disease can be missed, particularly in young adults. Repeated assessment of symptoms over time is important to improving the accuracy of diagnosis. Too often, for example, a younger person with Parkinson's may be diagnosed with mental illness, because even the physician may suspect the disease only in older people.
Parkinson's may be suspected in patients with the following symptoms:
Later Symptoms. In later stages of Parkinson's disease, the symptoms are usually unmistakable, and the problem can often be diagnosed using simple physical tests and a medical and personal history.
Imaging techniques, such as computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron-emission tomographic (PET) may be very useful in ruling out disorders with similar symptoms, such as progressive supranuclear palsy. They are not usually necessary when physical symptoms of Parkinson's disease are obvious.
Research is ongoing to determine how well imaging tests can detect early and late stages of Parkinson's and allow physicians to gauge disease progression and effectiveness of treatment. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and PET, the best neuroimaging techniques available today, are playing a vital role in Parkinsons research as well. By enabling the detection of small changes in brain function early on, they are paving the way for studies of neuroprotective agents. Before these imaging methods were available, there was no adequate way to determine if neuroprotective drugs could slow the progression of early disease.
Ruling out Causes of Parkinsonism and Diseases that Mimic Parkinson's Disease
When symptoms resemble Parkinson's disease but have an identifiable cause, the syndrome is known as parkinsonism. People who have parkinsonism, but not Parkinson's disease, often have additional neurologic symptoms. A number of conditions can also have similar or some of these symptoms.
Other Neurologic Conditions. Many medical conditions may cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease:
Drugs. Certain drugs or medications account for about 4% of all cases of parkinsonism. According to some studies, patients who experience drug-induced parkinsonism may actually be at an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease later in life. A number of drugs can cause these symptoms, including antipsychotic and antiseizure agents. Any with parkinsonism should discuss their medications with their physician.
Immune Reaction to Gluten. One study found that an immune response to a protein found in gluten, a substance in wheat, rye, and barley, can cause muscle weakness and neurologic problems similar to parkinsonism.