Nearly one million people in the U.S. are already living with Parkinson’s, a disease that causes tremors, stiffness and rigidity, cognitive decline and more. And that number is expected to grow quickly, adding another 200,000 people in less than a decade.
There are some factors that can help you predict your risk of the disease, such as having a family member with Parkinson’s or having suffered repeated head traumas. However, for the most part, it can be hard to know if you’ll become one of the statistics.
And even though there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, there are pharmaceutical and alternative health methods that can help slow the disease progression. I’ll list some of that information below.
Thanks to research there could be an easy way to know if Parkinson’s could be in your future, so you could get started on slowing symptoms. Simply ask your spouse or significant other how you sleep…
A sleep disorder that can deprive your brain of oxygen
The research, performed at Aarhus University, focused on a restless sleep condition known as Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD).
And you might have it if you sleep restlessly, flail your arms, and kick out in your sleep.
The team of scientists monitored the brains of 20 RBD patients and 25 healthy control subjects in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. The researchers kept track of their EEG (electrical activity in the brain), EOG (eye movements), EMG (muscle activity) and ECG (electrical activity in the heart) as they slept.
They discovered that people who sleep restlessly due to RBD have low blood flow and flow disturbances in the small blood vessels in their brain, which can lead to a lack of oxygen in brain tissue. In the long term, this can actually break down the brain tissue and lead to symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
In fact, according to the researchers, those flow disturbances happen in the cerebral cortex and are associated with language comprehension, visual construction and recognition. They also go hand-in-hand with reduced cognitive performance.
Put simply, the researchers say that sleeping restlessly could be a very early sign of Parkinson’s.
“We can see complications in the small blood vessels of the brain in patients with RBD, although these patients don’t otherwise have any symptoms and the brain doesn’t show other signs of disease,” said researcher, Simon Fristed Eskildsen.
Other early signs of Parkinson’s disease
Additional early warning signs of Parkinson’s to be aware of include:
- Loss of smell – The inability to detect even strong smells like licorice, banana, or menthol is due to the die-off of cells that produce the dopamine that helps transmit signals between brain and motor neurons.
- Excessive sweating – Parkinson’s affects your autonomic system including your sweat glands. Some women with Parkinson’s can confuse the excessive sweating from the disease with “hot flashes”.
- Handwriting changes – Handwriting that changes over time, as in letters that are smaller and cramped words, can be a warning sign of the disease.
- Soft or hoarse voice – If people tell you that you speak too softly or sound hoarse, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s.
- Dizziness or fainting – Parkinson’s can result in orthostatic hypotension, leaving you feeling light-headed.
- Constipation – Trouble moving your bowels or straining can be an early Parkinson’s sign.
- Tremor – A slight shaking or tremor at rest in your finger, thumb, hand or chin is common in Parkinson’s.
- Stiffness in shoulder or hips – Stiffness that doesn’t go away as you move is another sign of the disease.
If you’re a restless sleeper or have any of the other early warning signs of Parkisnon’s, be sure to talk to your doctor. And be sure to consider adding nutrients to your diet that help combat symptoms and neurological damage of the disease such as tryptophan, CoQ10, NADH and melatonin. And add in phytonutrients from black tea, resveratrol and ashwagandha.
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Statistics — Parkinson’s Foundation
10 Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease — Parkinson’s Foundation
Parkinson’s Disease Risk Factors and Causes — Johns Hopkins Medicine
KNOW THESE EARLY SIGNS TO HEAD OFF PARKINSON’S DISEASE — Easy Health Options