183 posts in the category “Parkinson’s Disease”

Let’s talk: Parkinson’s disease, speech changes + communication issues

Posted 2 weeks ago by

Parkinson’s disease can cause your voice to become raspy, quiet or unsteady, and motor symptoms can make writing and typing more difficult. Have you experienced communication issues like these? See what others have tried — from Lee Silverman Voice Treatment and voice-activated “smart” devices to (drumroll please…) singing classes.

How PD can impact communication

Parkinson’s affects the part of the brain and nerves that control speech and oral/facial movement. ParkinsonsDisease.net says PD may cause:

  • Softer, breathy, or hoarse voice
  • Slurred speech
  • Mumbling or rapid speech
  • Monotone voice, lacking the normal ups and downs
  • Slower speech because of difficulty finding the right words
  • Trouble participating in fast-paced conversations.

They also break down the medical terms related to these speech symptoms:

  • Dysarthria — A motor speech disorder or impairment in speaking due to PD affecting the muscles required for speech
  • Hypophonia — Soft speech or an abnormally weak voice caused by the weakening muscles
  • Tachyphemia — Also known as “cluttering,” this is characterized by excessively fast talking and rapid stammering that can be difficult to understand

In addition, people with PD may experience tremor, rigidity and dystonia or cramping, which can make writing and typing difficult. Research has shown that about half of people with PD have micrographia (small, cramped handwriting).

Treatments and tools for communication

In our recent roundup of products that help people live better with PD, some members said they use an adaptive pen (Ring-Pen) to help with handwriting, Dragon Naturally Speaking (speech recognition software) to help with typing and computer use, and “smart” speakers/home devices (such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant) to use voice commands to search the web or make a call.

Here are some other therapies and tools mentioned on PatientsLikeMe and around the web to help manage PD communication issues:

  • Speech-language therapy or SLT (which can also help with dysphagia/swallowing issues and saliva control)
  • Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®), which is a specific type of speech therapy first developed in the 1980s specifically for people with PD (see research on LSVT and join PatientsLikeMe for full access to members’ evaluations of this treatment)
  • Speech amplification devices, such as Spokeman, ChatterVox and Oticon (see a Canadian study on these devices for people with PD — jump to page 70 for patients’ ratings). One person even shared on Reddit about hacking a collar-style microphone to work all day with an Echo/Alexa or smart home device (for his mom with PD)
  • Free dictation software, which is now available on most Apple/iOS and Android phones/mobile devices — just look for the microphone icon next to your space bar on the keyboard where you write text messages (hint: this works for almost anywhere you can type on the PatientsLikeMe app — get the iOS app here and the Android app here!)
  • Other dictation tricks for Apple devices as well as Android, Windows and other systems (many work with Google docs — a free alternative to dictation software)
  • Voice banking with programs like VocaliDMessage Banking or ModelTalker (check out our recent roundup of communication tools for people with ALS)

And explore even more Apple and Android accessibility tools.

Singing or music therapy for PD

Researchers are studying the positive effects of singing in people with PD. Initial research from Iowa State University (which has a weekly singing class for people with PD) shows that regular singing and voice exercises may help the muscles involved in speaking, swallowing and respiratory control. Singing in a group may also help with symptoms like depression and tremor, and overall quality of life, researchers in Australia say.

Choirs for people with PD have popped up across the U.S., from California to Georgia. (Add a comment below if you know of any in your area!)

Which communication issues are you dealing with these days? What’s been the most (or least) helpful? Join PatientsLikeMe today to check out or take part in this forum conversation with others living with PD.

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Parkinson’s disease and hyperhidrosis: Sweat struggles + solutions

Posted 1 month ago by

PatientsLikeMe members with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have talked a lot about excessive sweating (aka hyperhidrosis) and heat intolerance with Parkinson’s disease. It can be a “stinker,” as one blogger who has PD recently shared in Parkinson’s News Today.

Can you relate? Read on for more information and some possible adjustments or life hacks that others have tried.

One study found that over 60% of patients with PD experience sweating disturbances like hyperhidrosis (over-secretion of sweat) or hypohydrosis (under-secretion of sweat, which is less common).

The Parkinson’s Foundation and Parkinson’s Victoria cover these issues in their guides to skin, scalp and sweat changes related to PD. In addition to hyperhidrosis, many people with PD experience an extra-oily scalp (or other parts of the body), drenching night sweats and general difficulty with temperature control.

Some of these problems may stem from PD itself, which affects some of the body’s automatic functions, such as blood pressure and temperature regulation.

Research has shown that hyperhidrosis also seems to occur along with “off” times in levodopa treatment and with dyskinesia (jerky movements without tremors).

Possible solutions and hacks

Maria De Leon, M.D., a neurologist with young onset PD, writes on her blog that she understands firsthand the impact that sweating (and related body odor) issues can have on people’s lives. A few things you can try? Dr. De Leon suggests:

  • Talking with your doctor about possible levodopa treatment adjustments and even other treatments that may help, such as propranolol (see what PatientsLikeMe members with PD report about propranolol)
  • Taking lukewarm showers or baths
  • Wearing lightweight cotton clothes
  • Drinking extra fluids, especially water
  • Using antibacterial soap to help prevent body odor, and thorough towel drying before getting dressed
  • Trying clinical or “industrial” strength antiperspirant/deodorants. Dr. De Leon says these “work best if you apply at night before bed time not after showering or will wash off; it takes 6 to 8 hours for antiperspirants to enter sweat ducts and properly clog pores plus the body is cooler at night. But do reapply at least once during the day.”

Elsewhere online, people with hyperhidrosis recommend wearing solid dark colors or clothes with prints to help camouflage sweat marks, using underarm sweat pads, wearing leather shoes to help stave off odor, and bringing a small towel and a spare shirt just in case. A New York Magazine writer with hyperhidrosis (but not PD) rounded up his favorite products for over-perspiration.

Talk with your doctor about any skin- or sweat-related issues you’re experiencing. Dr. De Leon says that anxiety, thyroid problems or other health conditions can also cause or add to excessive sweating.

Join PatientsLikeMe to see what the community says about excessive sweating and heat intolerance with PD, or add a comment below based on your own experiences.

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