7 Non-Motor Effects of Parkinson's Disease

  • hands
    More Than Just Movement.
    When many people think of Parkinson's disease, they picture its most obvious symptoms, such as tremors, stiffness, and difficulty controlling movements. But Parkinson's disease doesn't affect just the muscles. It can affect the body in many other ways. Learn more about the physical toll of Parkinson's, and what you can do to cope.



  • Trouble sleeping
    1. Sleep Problems
    Parkinson's disease can keep you from getting the sleep you need. Trouble rolling over, painful muscle cramps, and the need to urinate can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Many people with Parkinson's may experience insomnia, nightmares, and other medical conditions, like restless legs syndrome, that can also disrupt sleep. Small changes can make a big difference. To help encourage restful nights, take prescription sleep aids or change the time at which you take Parkinson's medications that can interfere with sleep (under your doctor's supervision, of course).



  • napping
    2. Daytime Sleepiness and Fatigue
    People with Parkinson's may have low energy during the day. Many factors can cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue, including poor sleep at night and the effects of medications that you take during the day. Treatments that may help include the stimulant methylphenidate and even a well-timed cup of coffee.



  • sexual difficulties
    3. Sexual Difficulties
    Parkinson's disease can affect the part of the nervous system that controls bodily functions without your conscious involvement. These changes can change your interest in sex – which can be lower or higher than usual – and your sexual function. Talking with a counselor may provide solutions if you experience difficulty having sex. Certain Parkinson's drugs can cause people to become more sexual than they would like. Your doctor may be able to treat this side effect by changing your dosage.



  • toilet
    4. Bladder Issues
    In Parkinson's disease, the brain and the bladder may have trouble working together. This can cause a need to urinate often, but it can also lead to difficulty voiding urine. A variety of treatments and strategies can help you better control urination. These include drugs to help you go less often, discreet undergarments to contain accidents, and an approach called self-catheterization to drain urine when your body is not cooperating.



  • pain
    5. Pain
    The body parts that you have trouble moving because of Parkinson's are often the targets of painful sensations, such as a burning or a "pins and needles" feeling. This discomfort may get worse as your Parkinson's medications wear off. A number of problems can cause different kinds of pains in Parkinson's disease. Fully describing the pain to your doctor – how it feels, where it hurts, what makes it feel better or worse – may improve your ability to get relief.



  • Dizziness
    6. Dizziness
    Changes in your nervous system can cause your blood pressure to fall when you stand up, making you feel dizzy and lightheaded. In some cases, this is due to the disease itself, but Parkinson's medications can also cause it. Staying well-hydrated and avoiding excessive heat can help prevent these episodes, as can moving more gradually when you switch from a sitting position to a standing one.



  • Treatment
    7. Constipation
    Constipation is a common symptom of Parkinson's disease – and it often begins even before you notice tremors and problems controlling your movements. You can take many steps to treat and possibly prevent constipation, including drinking plenty of water, exercising every day, and eating lots of fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.



7 Non-Motor Effects of Parkinson's Disease

About The Author

  1. Lyons, KE. The Impact and Management of Nonmotor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. American Journal of Managed Care. 2011;17:S308-S314.


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    Last Review Date: 2019 Aug 4
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