Comparing Like Symptoms Of Parkinson's Disease And Pregnancy

Posted on: 16 May 2016

Although the symptoms may occur for different reasons, some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease are similar to those of pregnancy. For some women, these symptoms worsen during pregnancy. If you aren't certain whether changes in your symptoms during pregnancy are normal, report them to your doctor who can help you understand why like symptoms can occur for different reasons.

  1. Fatigue. Fatigue is a common symptom of Parkinson's disease. Because of the slowness in movements the disease causes, it takes more energy to get things done. The reduced physical activity, sleep problems, and depression that often are associated with Parkinson's also contribute to fatigue.

    Increased production of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy can make you feel tired. Another reason for added fatigue during pregnancy is your heart working harder to pump additional blood throughout your body to get adequate nutrients to you and your baby.

  2. Sleep problems. Sleep problems – particularly an inability to sleep through the night or fall back to sleep after waking up – can be an early sign of Parkinson's disease. Side effects of medications and discomfort due to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, tremor, and urinary frequency can cause sleep disturbances as well.

    The physical changes that take place in your body during pregnancy can make sleep even more difficult. Pain in your lower back, leg cramps, and shortness of breath that often accompany pregnancy can interfere with sleep, complicating existing sleep problems more.

  3. Slowness of movement. Slowed movement – one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease – is due to degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. A decrease in the production of dopamine – a neurotransmitter that these nerve cells produce – causes symptoms including stiffness, tremor, and slow movements.

    The weight you gain during pregnancy can put added strain on your joints – especially the knees and hips – making them achy. Added weight can cause changes in your posture, causing back pain that can make it more difficult to move around. 

  4. Impaired posture and balance. If you have Parkinson's disease, posture changes may include a tendency to bend forward or to one side. Whether the change is due to muscle rigidity or changes in the brain, muscle imbalances can limit hip mobility and bend your spine forward.

    When you are pregnant, as your belly expands to accommodate your growing baby, your center of gravity changes, which can affect your posture and balance. A hormone the placenta secretes to loosen the ligaments in the pelvis makes joints that are normally stiff more flexible and loose. The hormone also loosens the ligaments in your hips, knees, and ankles, which can affect your balance by decreasing stability in these joints.

  5. Weight gain. If you have Parkinson's disease, some of the medications – particularly dopamine agonists and steroids – you take to treat your symptoms can cause weight gain. Studies suggest that dopamine agonists may cause compulsive behaviors, such as compulsive eating, in individuals with Parkinson's. Steroid medications can lead to increased appetite and fluid retention.

    While pregnancy weight gain is normal, as a general rule of thumb, if you were of normal weight for your height and body build before becoming pregnant, you should gain an average of 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy.

  6. Constipation. Some of the medications doctors prescribe to treat Parkinson's disease can cause constipation. Constipation also may be due to impaired autonomic response, which slows smooth muscle activity in the intestinal tract.

    Pressure on the expanding uterus during pregnancy can cause constipation as can the increased production of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that relax smooth muscle in the gastrointestinal tract.

  7. Bladder problems. Common urinary symptoms that can occur with Parkinson's disease include trouble holding or eliminating urine. Urinary frequency or incontinence also can occur. Because the brain controls the bladder and urethral sphincter, disturbances in brain activity can affect the function of these two muscles.

    Extra body weight during pregnancy puts added pressure on the bladder. The pressure your developing fetus puts on the pelvic floor muscles can add to bladder control problems or cause urinary frequency.

For more information, contact a business that specializes in obstetrics and gynecology in your area.