Physical symptoms of Parkinson's
In addition to the main symptoms of
Parkinson's that affect movement, there are many other
physical symptoms that can affect people.
Parkinson's is a very individual condition. Its symptoms and progression will vary from person to person.
Harriet Phipps, Parkinson's nurse
It is just as important to treat these physical symptoms of
Parkinson's as the movement
Physical symptoms will vary from person to person, but can
include the symptoms below.
These are often referred to as non-motor symptoms - or
Bladder and bowel problems
Bladder problems may occur in Parkinson's, affecting the nerves
that control emptying the bladder.
This can lead to an overactive bladder and the need to pass
urine more often and quickly.
Some people with Parkinson's may get constipation. It may make
you feel unwell, lethargic and even nauseous. But it rarely leads
to serious complications.
Increasing the amount you drink and how much fibre you eat,
eating a balanced diet and taking
regular exercise will stimulate your
bowel to help prevent constipation.
Whatever the reason for bladder and bowel problems, there is
something that can be done. And there are many different ways of
managing the symptoms.
Find out more:
Swallowing and saliva control
Some people with Parkinson's may find they have problems when
eating and swallowing. And some people may produce too much or too
Saliva may build up in the mouth, which can sometimes
Practising keeping your lips together, learning tips on tongue
control and exercises may help with any difficulties in swallowing
and may also help to control drooling.
In some cases, by just changing your posture
and sitting more upright you can help improve things.
Find out more: Eating,
swallowing and saliva control in Parkinson's information
Falls and dizziness
Loss of balance and falling can be common in Parkinson's. Falls
are caused by many factors, such as the changes in posture
that may happen as Parkinson's progresses.
Freezing can also add to the possible risks of falling.
Not everyone will fall. But if you have had a fall it's
important to tell your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse (if you
Find out more: Falls
and Parkinson's information sheet
Some people with Parkinson's will experience freezing. You may
stop suddenly while walking and feel like your feet are 'glued' to
the ground. You may then be unable to move forward again for
several seconds or minutes.
We still don't know exactly what causes freezing. But it may
happen when your movements are interrupted, or when you are
starting to move.
Freezing doesn't just affect walking. You may freeze during
repetitive movements like writing or brushing your teeth.
Find out more: Freezing
in Parkinson's information sheet
Speech and communication
If you have Parkinson's, you may find you have problems with
different kinds of communication, including speech, facial
expressions and writing.
Many people with Parkinson's have some speech problems when they
first develop the condition. These may make everyday activities -
such as talking to friends or using the phone - difficult.
The speech problems that some people with Parkinson's can have
may be helped by speech and language therapy.
Find out more:
Eye problems such as blurred or double vision, dry eyes or
excessive watering can be common for people with
Some of these issues will be due to Parkinson's or the treatment
If you experience any eye problems see your GP, specialist or
Find out more: Parkinson's and eyes information sheet
Skin, scalp and sweating problems
Parkinson's can cause the sweat glands to overreact. That can
lead to too much or too little sweat or to extremely dry skin.
Some Parkinson's drugs can make you
sweat too much. Others can have the opposite effect and make you
sweat too little.
Changes to your medication can often reduce excess sweating and
ensure that your body produces enough perspiration.
Dry skin and scalp problems can be irritating, but are often
manageable with creams and medicated shampoos.
To find the best treatment for you talk to your GP, specialist
or Parkinson's nurse.
Find out more: Skin and
sweating problems in Parkinson's information sheet
Having a balanced diet is an important part of looking after
If you have Parkinson's you may need to take a little extra care
as some symptoms and side effects of treatment can limit or upset
Being underweight or overweight can have an impact on your
Find out more:
Pain and Parkinson's
There are many different types of pain. You may, for example,
experience headaches or muscular and joint pain.
Not everyone with Parkinson's experiences the same symptoms. For
some people, pain can be the main symptom of their condition,
although not everyone will experience this problem.
It is important that both people with Parkinson's and their
carers are aware of the problems pain may cause in Parkinson's.
To be able to treat pain in Parkinson's, you and your GP,
specialist or Parkinson's nurse, need to find out what's causing
Find out more:
Also in this section
Looking after someone with Parkinson's
If you care for someone with Parkinson's, take a look at our
advice for carers.