Early Parkinson's Patients May Suffer Some Symptoms in Silence

MONDAY Jan. 14, 2013 -- People with early stage Parkinson's disease often experience anxiety, constipation, drooling and other symptoms not related to movement problems, new research finds.

Because movement problems are the main symptom of the disease, these non-motor symptoms often go undiagnosed and untreated, according to the study, which was published in the Jan. 15 issue of the journal Neurology.

"Oftentimes people with early Parkinson's don't even mention these symptoms to their doctors, and doctors don't ask about them," study author Tien Khoo, of Newcastle University in England, said in a journal news release. "Yet many times [the symptoms] can be treated effectively."

The researchers asked 159 newly diagnosed Parkinson's disease patients and 99 people without the disease whether they experienced any of 30 non-motor symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems, sleep problems and sexual problems.

The Parkinson's patients had an average of eight of the non-motor symptoms, while those without Parkinson's had an average of three. The most common symptoms for Parkinson's patients were drooling, urinary urgency, constipation, anxiety and a reduced sense of smell.

Excess saliva or drooling was a problem for 56 percent of Parkinson's patients and only 6 percent of those without the disease. Constipation affected 42 percent of Parkinson's patients and 7 percent of those without the disease. Anxiety was reported by 43 percent of Parkinson's patients and 10 percent of those without the disease.

"These results show that Parkinson's affects many systems in the body, even in its earliest stages," Khoo said. "Often these symptoms affect people's quality of life just as much if not more than the movement problems that come with the disease. Both doctors and patients need to bring these symptoms up and consider available treatments."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about Parkinson's disease.

Posted: January 2013


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