The first symptom people generally think of with Parkinson’s disease is shaking, and possibly they may have heard of tremors, shuffling, or freezing. If I were asked to quickly list all the symptoms I suffer from, I would have a hard time for there are many and still counting! The latest symptom to add to my long list is occasionally having difficulty in breathing. This symptom may not be as common as tremors or shuffling, but for those patients like myself affected by breathing difficulties, it can be rather scary.
It was explained to me, that just like walking can be severely inhibited by frozen or rigid painful leg muscles, one’s breathing can also be restricted due to the core trunk muscles which control the inflation and deflation of the lungs. It’s therefore understandable if these muscles become rigid, that ribs and lungs become cramped and breathing becomes problematic.
Apart from the fairly obvious immediate concerns affected by the inability to breathe properly, this symptom has further disturbing ramifications which can impact quality of life. I am well aware that the risk of chest infections rises if the lungs function poorly, by the reduced ability to cough properly. I have also noticed on occasion when my breathing is not good, making it difficult for me to talk, my speech is reduced to a husky breathless voice (far from sexy I can assure you!). We make light of this when it happens, and since I’m known in my family for being quite the chatterbox, suddenly not able to talk with full gusto, you can imagine the jokes that ensue.
No matter what new symptoms Parkinson’s throws at me, my family and I continue to live life to the full and maintain a sense of humour.