Parkinson’s disease is often associated with older persons, over the age of 50, but a significant number of cases starts within the 40s. Usually these signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s goes unnoticed either due to the low intensity, of symptoms, ignorance about this disease or fear about confronting the prospect of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Early onset of Parkinson’s disease (YOPD or young onset of Parkinson’s disease) is not common but can occur as early as the teen years. It may often be missed at the onset and early stages of Parkinson’s disease may be misdiagnosed for other conditions like dystonia, multiple sclerosis and even alcohol or drug abuse. Often cases of Parkinson’s disease in teens or young adults (within their 20s) may be missed altogether for years as the sufferer attempts to hide their symptoms and cope with mild tremors and poor coordination without alerting a medical professional.
Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease Treatment
Treatment for early onset of Parkinson’s disease (teens, 20s, 30s) may not be the same as Parkinson’s disease in the more senior years. The use of levodopa is limited in young sufferers of Parkinson’s and reserved for the later years. Other treatments are usually advisable in a younger sufferer due to the side effects of levodopa, which has been shown to be higher when used in young onset of Parkinson’s disease. The higher incidence of depression in young onset of Parkison’s disease has to also be considered in the therapeutic protocol as the depression can affect the socioeconomic aspects of the sufferer.
Juvenile Parkinson’s Disease
Juvenile Parkinson’s disease is rare but has been reported to occur in children under the age of 10 years. Unlike other neurological and musculoskeletal disorders in children, juvenile Parkinson’s disease is clearly identifiable due to the changes in posture and stooped gait typical of Parkinson’s disease. These characteristic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may not be as clearly evident in older children and young adults suffering with young onset of Parkinson’s disease (YOPD).
While there is no clear genetic link for the development of Parkinson’s disease, any person suspecting the development of this condition should seek medical attention immediately. A thorough case history, neurological and musculoskeletal examination and further diagnostic testing will allow your medical doctor to confirm or exclude Parkinson’s disease as a differential diagnosis.