Parkinson Disease Health (cont.)

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When to Seek Medical Care

If a person feels they are beginning to experience symptoms of Parkinson's disease, especially if they are over age 59, they should consult with their doctor.

  • Because PD is a progressive disease, people will continue to experience new and disturbing symptoms.
    • These symptoms can sometimes be hard to distinguish from side effects of medications, which can be numerous in someone with PD.
    • Thus, any change in a person's baseline health condition should prompt an evaluation to rule out other medical conditions or medication side effects.

Although the emergency department is not the setting for deciding if someone has Parkinson's disease, visits may be needed to rule out or treat other emergent medical conditions.

Specific complications associated with PD may need an emergency department visit. For example:

  • At times, new or changing symptoms may mimic other diseases and cause the patient or their family anxiety. (For instance, people may have changes in their ability to think or be unable to move a certain body part that is worse than before, mimicking signs of a stroke.)
  • With advancing PD, people become more likely to fall because of increasing problems with walking.
  • Many people with PD may also develop osteoporosis (loss of calcium in bone), which in combination with walking problems of PD can make people more likely to have pelvic, hip, and other types of fractures.
  • The involuntary nervous system problems of PD may cause some PD patients to have severe urinary retention (inability to urinate), constipation, or fecal impaction requiring medical intervention.
  • The movement disorder may also affect the swallowing mechanism and esophagus causing some PD patients to choke or have food become impacted within the esophagus.
  • Another associated complication of PD is aspiration (inhalation of food) of either liquids or solids, which makes people more likely to have pneumonia and possibly can cause choking.
  • The medications used to treat PD patients are not without complications . For instance, low blood pressure may result and contribute to the sense of imbalance or increase the risk of falls or other trauma.
  • In addition, people with PD can become immobilized by the disease, which can lead to painful muscle contractions. The muscles can become locked in spasm preventing the PD patient from moving the extremity. If a person with Parkinson's disease is unable to communicate effectively, this may cause a great deal of anxiety. Certain medications and physical therapy may help alleviate this problem.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/12/2013

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