Parkinson’s disease (PD) is most commonly recognized by its effect on a person’s movement. As a progressive nervous system disorder, it causes involuntary movements. Other symptoms may not be as noticeable, particularly in the beginning as they often appear gradually. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but there are medications available that can greatly improve these symptoms.
In addition to the long list of symptoms that come with PD, there are also some lesser known complications that may arise. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with this disorder, it may be helpful to better understand the possible complications in order to cope. Here’s a look at some of the most common complications to watch for…
PD weakens the muscles in the mouth and jaw, making it hard to swallow food. This puts them at risk for food getting stuck in their throat. They may also have trouble chewing and eating. As the condition progresses, people may even struggle with drooling, as their saliva production increases. “Saliva may accumulate in your mouth due to slowed swallowing, leading to drooling,” writes the Mayo Clinic. It can also have the opposite effect where people begin to produce too little saliva, making swallowing uncomfortable, says Healthline.
This complication mainly pertains to people in the later stages of PD, as the disease can become quite serious. If someone is experiencing problems with chewing and swallowing, they should be monitored closely because it can lead to choking and cause food or liquids to leak into the lungs (leading to pneumonia), as well as poor nutrition, adds the source.