Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of disorders that primarily affect neurons in your brain and spinal cord. While there are many different types of neurodegenerative diseases, many lead to a progressive degeneration of these essential nerve cells that greatly diminishes your quality of life.
Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for managing these conditions effectively. In this blog, the team of neurology specialists here at Link Neuroscience Institute explores three common early symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases that you should be aware of.
Three early neurodegenerative disease symptoms to know
Recognizing the signs of neurodegenerative diseases can help you or your loved ones seek medical attention and treatment at an early stage and potentially slow the disease’s progression. However, remember that some of these warning signs may be related to other conditions, and the only way to know for sure is to receive an accurate diagnosis.
That being said, the following symptoms could be early neurodegenerative warning signs:
1. Memory loss and cognitive decline
One of the most well-known neurodegenerative diseases is Alzheimer’s disease. Memory loss and cognitive decline are often the earliest signs of this condition. It can start with simple forgetfulness, like misplacing keys or forgetting names, and progress to more severe memory deficits.
Parkinson's disease, another common neurodegenerative disorder, can also affect cognition in its early stages. You may find it harder to concentrate and experience slow thinking and subtle changes in problem-solving abilities.
If you or someone you know is experiencing unexplained memory problems or cognitive decline, a proper evaluation is key to confirming the source of memory problems. Keep in mind that memory problems can be linked to depression and side effects of medications.
2. Changes in motor function
Neurodegenerative diseases can affect your motor skills. Motor skills are functions that require using your muscles to perform certain tasks. Fine motor skills use smaller muscles; examples of fine motor skills include writing, typing, dialing a phone number, buttoning your shirt, or feeding yourself. Gross motor skills require using larger muscles in your arms and legs. Examples include walking, running, and climbing the stairs. These can include muscle weakness, tremors, and difficulty with coordination.
Depending on what neurodegenerative disease you are dealing with, you might experience changes in fine and/or gross motor functions. Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are neurodegenerative diseases that often manifest with motor symptoms.
In the case of Parkinson’s disease, you may notice resting tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement. In the case of ALS, you might first notice muscle weakness, tripping and falling, trouble walking, and muscle twitches.
These early motor symptoms can significantly impact your daily life. Prompt medical attention can lead to therapies, treatments, and guidance on adaptive tools that help manage and alleviate these symptoms.
3. Mood and behavioral changes
Neurodegenerative diseases can also affect your mood and behavior. Depression, anxiety, and personality changes are often observed in the early stages of these conditions.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a neurodegenerative disorder known for causing dramatic shifts in behavior, personality, and trouble communicating. People with FTD may display socially inappropriate behavior or a loss of empathy.
What to do if you spot these symptoms
Early detection of neurodegenerative diseases is vital for better management and improved outcomes. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Link Neuroscience Institute team at either our Oxnard or Santa Barbara, California, location.
We know it’s not always easy to think about neurodegenerative conditions, but timely intervention, proper diagnosis, and early treatment can make a significant difference in maintaining a higher quality of life for you or your loved one.
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