Skip to content

Signs You Have Parkinson's, According to Experts

Be aware of these warning signs that indicate you could have Parkinson's.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Every year an estimated 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease–a disorder that compromises motor control and memory,  according to the Parkinson's Foundation. "Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and slowly progressive neurological condition that presently affects more than 1 million Americans and over 8 million people internationally. It is marked by tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement," Melita Petrossian, MD, neurologist and director of the Movement Disorders Center at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA tells us. There's several signs that indicate you could have Parkinson's and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who explain warning signals to pay attention to. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Classic Symptoms That Are Observed When Making a Diagnosis


Dr. Petrossian says the following are signs to watch out for:

"Tremor in the limbs when completely relaxed

Muscular stiffness

Slow movement

Decreased facial expressions

Low voice volume

Small handwriting

A stooped posture

Walking with small, shuffled steps

Decreased arm-swing on one side

Difficulty getting out of a chair or turning in bed"


Other Signs of Parkinson's to Watch Out For


Dr. Petrossian says, "Other symptoms that may sometimes precede these classic symptoms include changes in mood, slowed thinking, acting out vivid dreams, chronic constipation, loss of smell, and dizziness when standing. Furthermore, Parkinson's disease is ultimately an individualistic condition. Initial symptoms, as well as the progression of symptoms over time, vary from person to person."


Who is at Risk for Parkinson's?

Mature man sitting on sofa and holding his hand.

Jennifer Prescott, RN, MSN, CDP and founder of Blue Water Homecare and Hospice shares, "The cause of Parkinson's Disease remains unknown however we understand that certain neurons (nerve cells) slowly break down and die.  This results in low dopamine levels in the brain which impacts motor function, speech, emotional changes and sleep disturbances.  

Risk factors include advanced age (greater than 60), heredity (someone in family that was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease), being a male and exposure to toxins such as PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, that were used in various industrial processes until they were banned in the 1970s. Researchers have found high concentrations of PCBs in the brains of people who had Parkinson's." 


Lifestyle Factors that Increase the Risk of Parkinson's

mature couple jogging outdoors

Prescott explains, "Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has been shown to play an important part in overall brain and body health.  However, there is no definitive research that shows direct correlation between risk factors and incidence of Parkinson's Disease.  Some research has supported the benefits of exercise and use of caffeine to lower risk for Parkinson's Disease."  


How Parkinson's Affects Daily Life and Overall Health?

closeup older individual with parkinson's holding spoon with rice

Prescott states, "Since Parkinson's Disease is a progressive neurological disease the impact to the person can be significant as they live with the disease.  Parkinson's Disease may cause both motor and non-motor symptoms.  Motor symptoms may include tremors, slow movement, rigidity, and balance problems.  People with Parkinson's Disease often experience vocal symptoms such as soft tone to voice, loss of vocal tone and rapid speaking and stuttering.  Non-motor symptoms can include cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, weight loss, fatigue, constipation, sleep disturbances and reduction in sexual desire (libido).  There are medications and surgical therapies that can support the person to live the highest quality life."  


What Should People Know About Parkinson's?


Prescott explains, "Parkinson's disease, documented in 1817 by physician James Parkinson, is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease.  Since Parkinson's is more common in people 60 years old and older, it is expected that the incidence of Parkinson's will increase with the aging of the baby boomers. Caring and supporting a loved one with Parkinson's Disease can be challenging and impacts the entire family.  There are many resources available both nationally and locally to provide support to people impacted by this disease.  Increasingly, studies are showing that recreational physical activities such as walking, swimming, dance, yoga, and Tai Chi can play an important role for individuals living with Parkinson's disease. If you are experiencing symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, please seek medical attention from your medical professional for diagnosis and treatment."   

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
Filed Under