Before the classic movement problems of Parkinson's disease appear, more benign-seeming symptoms -- such as anxiety and drooling -- may occur, according to a new study in the journal Neurology.
"These results show that Parkinson's affects many systems in the body, even in its earliest stages," study researcher Tien K. Khoo, Ph.D., of the UK's Newcastle University, said in a statement. "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."
For the study, researchers asked 159 people who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's -- as well as 99 age-matched people without Parkinson's -- to report whether they'd experienced any of 30 potential non-motor symptoms. These issues ranged from problems sleeping, to digestive issues, to sexual problems.
Researchers found that the people who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's experience an average of eight of these problems, while those without Parkinson's experienced an average of three problems.
The most common symptoms experienced by the people with Parkinson's included drooling (56 percent of people with Parkinson's, versus 6 percent without the condition), constipation (experienced by 42 percent of people with Parkinson's, compared with 7 percent without the condition), and anxiety (experienced by 43 percent of people with Parkinson's, compared with 10 percent of those without the condition).
Parkinson's disease affects up to 1 million people in the U.S., and about 60,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in this country, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. Signs usually include tremors, problems with walking, muscle stiffness, slowed movement, changes in speaking and the loss of the ability to do "automatic movements" (like blinking), the Mayo Clinic reported, though early signs of Parkinson's can be so slight that they go unnoticed.
Michael J. Fox
Fox, known for his roles in "Spin City" and the "Back to the Future" trilogy, was <a href="https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/michael-story.html" target="_hplink">diagnosed with Parkinson's disease</a> at age 30 in 1991, according to his foundation's website. However, he didn't share his condition publicly until 1998, and he officially retired from "Spin City" in 2000. That same year, Fox launched <a href="https://www.michaeljfox.org" target="_hplink">The Michael J. Fox Foundation</a> for Parkinson's Research, which is dedicated to raising awareness and funding.
The boxing champion first <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/20/parkinsons-disease-muhammad-ali" target="_hplink">started experiencing symptoms</a> of Parkinson's shortly after he retired from the sport in 1981, but <em>The Guardian</em> reported that he wasn't officially diagnosed until 1984. By that time, he was already <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/20/parkinsons-disease-muhammad-ali" target="_hplink">experiencing symptoms</a> of tremors, slow movement and slurred speech, according to <em>The Guardian</em>. The Associated Press reported that today, Ali, now 70, is largely left <a href="http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/othersports/2017257069_ali17.html" target="_hplink">unable to speak</a>, save for several whispers in the mornings. "The <a href="http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/othersports/2017257069_ali17.html" target="_hplink">Parkinson's has affected him</a> a lot, one of [the] things he has is a lot of difficulty speaking," Dr. Abraham Lieberman, director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, told the Associated Press. "But he's never downbeat about it ... He's a tremendous inspiration to everyone."
The former U.S. Attorney General -- and the first woman to hold that position -- announced her <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1995/11/17/us/reno-discloses-diagnosis-of-parkinson-s-disease.html" target="_hplink">diagnosis of Parkinson's in 1995</a>, the <em>New York Times</em> reported. The first sign for her was uncontrollable shaking of her left hand. "Her <a href="https://ufandshands.org/news/2011/former-attorney-general-reno-helps-uf-open-center-movement-disorders-and-neurorestoration" target="_hplink">hand shook like mad</a>, but she pointed out that her brain wasn't shaking," Reno's sister, Maggy Hurchalla, said at the opening of the University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration last year, according to a statement. Reno told the American Academy of Neurology's <em>Neurology Now</em> in 2006 that even though the <a href="http://patients.aan.com/resources/neurologynow/index.cfm?event=home.showArticle&id=ovid.com%3A%2Fbib%2Fovftdb%2F01222928-200602010-00006" target="_hplink">tremors associated with her condition</a> have become worse throughout the years, they have been mainly in her left hand.
While the Chinese Communist leader's cause of death in 1976 is not 100 percent confirmed, Mao was believed to have <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0909.html" target="_hplink">suffered from Parkinson's disease</a>, the <em>New York Times</em> reported.
Kerr, who had roles in "The King & I," "From Here to Eternity" and "An Affair to Remember," <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20152961,00.html" target="_hplink">passed away from Parkinson's</a> at age 86 in 2007, <em>People</em> magazine reported. TCM reported that the actress was <a href="http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/101216%7C37331/Deborah-Kerr/" target="_hplink">diagnosed with the condition in 1994</a>, and had to use a wheelchair.
The iconic country music singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee <a href="http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/9710/27/johnny.cash/" target="_hplink">publicly announced his diagnosis</a> in 1997, CNN reported. At the time, his condition spurred cancellations of book promotions and concert tours. Cash ultimately <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2003-09-12-cash-obit_x.htm" target="_hplink">died from diabetes complications</a> in 2003 at age 71, <em>USA Today</em> reported.
Reverend Billy Graham publicly announced that <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/graham_billy/" target="_hplink">he had Parkinson's</a> in 1992 at age 73, CBC News reported. His spokesman said at the time that "Evangelist Billy Graham has known for about three years that he is in the <a href="http://articles.philly.com/1992-07-03/news/26027174_1_graham-spokesman-larry-ross-crusade-parkinson" target="_hplink">early stages of Parkinson's disease</a>," the <em>Philadelphia Daily News</em> reported. "It was diagnosed during a routine checkup at the Mayo Clinic. His early manifestations were a mild tremor that causes difficulty in handwriting and some difficulty in gait and in descending steps without a rail. Both symptoms improved significantly with a modest amount of medication." Today, Graham also <a href="http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/05/11/2289457/evangelist-billy-graham-hospitalized.html" target="_hplink">suffers from macular degeneration</a> and hearing loss, and was most recently hospitalized because of pneumonia, the <em>Charlotte Observer</em> reported.
Learn about the Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
Dr. Bill Simpson explains Parkinson's Disease. He discusses the initial symptoms of this disease and how these symptoms progress.