Is this Parkinson’s?

patient seeing the doctor

If you are wondering if a particular symptom you’re feeling is Parkinson’s or not, you’re not alone. Up to 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the US each year, and each case began with a question: is what I’m feeling Parkinson’s disease? This article should provide a little guidance on the issue.

The first thing you should know is that I am not a doctor, and the internet is not here to diagnose you. There’s the old joke that whenever you look up your symptoms online, the result is always cancer. This is a joke that carries more than a small grain of truth. The lesson here is that should not self-diagnose yourself. If you are feeling the symptoms of any illness, you should make an appointment with your doctor, and if you believe you may be displaying symptoms of Parkinson’s, demand to be seen by a neurologist.

With that said, there are some symptoms you can recognize that may or may be related to Parkinson’s. Understand that one symptom alone can be a million different things, but many symptoms being displayed together may be something more specific. The classic symptoms set forth by the doctor who discovered Parkinson’s, Dr. James Parkinson in 1817, in his essay, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy. He identified tremor, slowness of movement, and stiffness of muscles as the classic Parkinson’s symptoms.

Over time, of course, scientists have researched Parkinson’s disease further and discovered other symptoms that we now consider to be “classic Parkinson’s”. Other motor symptoms include the classic static face or statue face, and other non-motor symptoms include depression, anxiety, brain fog, and cognition difficulties.

Like we have already covered, one or two symptoms on their own could mean any number of ailments, but more specific symptoms, and more of them, could bring you closer to understanding whether or not you are experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s. For example, seizures and difficulty breathing are typically not associated with Parkinson’s, so if you are having these as a part of your symptoms, you may not have Parkinson’s (or Parkinson’s could be secondary to something else that is going on).

The only way you will ever know for sure is to be seen by a doctor and have them examine you. An examination typically involves a neurological exam. These exams are not at all scary, and can be done right in your doctor’s office. This is when the doctor checks your body for tremor, stiffness, and slow movements, the classic symptoms of Parkinson’s.

If the doctor believes your symptoms merit further investigation, you may be referred to a neurologist. If your symptoms are really bothering you and keeping you from doing your favorite activities, demand to see a neurologist – don’t ask, demand! It took doctors two years to diagnose me with young onset Parkinson’s disease. At first, they said I was too young to have it, then they said it might be tennis elbow, then they thought it was something else. One thing I would have done sooner would have been to demand the neurologist look at me sooner.

So go out there and see a doctor, don’t diagnose yourself, and don’t trust anyone online to diagnose you. The sooner you know what’s wrong, the sooner you can treat it and continue living your best life!