Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year. When people think of Parkinson’s, tremors, stiffness, and loss of dexterity usually come to mind. But what we now know is that patients with the disease often develop symptoms that may begin months, and sometimes even years, before physical symptoms appear.
Two of these early symptoms are a loss of the sense of smell (and sometimes taste, too), and constipation. But the most significant early symptom is a specific sleep problem called REM behavior disorder, or RBD. With RBD, people spend more time in the REM stage of sleep, which is when we dream. In people with RBD, these dreams are very vivid, and are accompanied by vocalizations and movements (while still asleep). These movements can be so frantic that the person’s bedmate may need to be careful to avoid injury.
Here are some more facts about Parkinson’s disease that may surprise you: