Actors have a flair for the dramatic.
So if you heard that Alan Alda, the actor from M*A*S*H, was marching around giving dramatic speeches, you probably wouldn’t think twice about it.
After all, that’s what actors are paid to do, right?
But what if that acting was taking place OFF the set and AWAY from the camera? And what if he wasn’t even aware of it… at least at first?
Because that’s exactly what was happening to Alda.
Strange link between dreams and Parkinson’s revealed
Around four years ago, the actor started doing something he’d never done before.
He started physically acting out his dreams while he was still fast asleep.
One night, for example, he dreamed he was throwing a bag of potatoes. Meanwhile, in his bedroom, he WAS throwing something. But it was a pillow at his wife.
Something didn’t seem right. And instead of ignoring the strange symptom as many of us might, Alda decided he needed to talk to a doctor about it.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Because no one would take Alda seriously at first. (Sound familiar?)
And when he asked about having a brain scan, it fell on deaf ears. After all, he didn’t have any “real” symptoms they said.
Finally, his persistence paid off. And it turns out Alda was right all along. Something WASN’T right.
The diagnosis was Parkinson’s disease.
Early diagnosis leads to better outcomes
Fast forward to today, and now doctors are FINALLY recognizing that acting out your dreams can be one of the earliest signs of the disease.
Not everyone has this little-known symptom, of course. But for those who do, recognizing it could lead to an earlier diagnosis.
Which it turns out is critically important with Parkinson’s disease.
Because by the time the symptoms you’re probably more familiar with… such as tremors, rigidity, and balance issues… appear treating the disease is much more challenging.
In fact, by the time they show up more than 60 percent of the dopamine neurons in the basal ganglia of your brain may have already been lost.
Which means with any treatment you try you’re already playing catch-up.
Potential Parkinson’s trouble signs to look for
Neurons, or nerve cells, in your brain create dopamine. The neurotransmitter acts as a messenger passing information between neurons. And it helps to regulate movement throughout your body.
But in folks with Parkinson’s the cells that create dopamine start to break down and die. And with less dopamine to go around messages get scrambled.
Tremors, twitching, and other unwanted movements start to occur. Coordination and balance are affected. And eventually, even movements such as swallowing can become difficult.
But catching the disease BEFORE your dopamine levels drop too low can make all the difference.
If you or a spouse suddenly start acting out your dreams like Alda don’t ignore it. But sleep acting isn’t the only early symptom.
Be on the look-out for these other potential signs of trouble too…
- cognitive changes
- feeling full after eating very little
- excessive sweating
- lightheadedness when you stand up
- loss of smell or taste
- trouble seeing things up close
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. Having one or even a cluster of them doesn’t mean you definitely have Parkinson’s, of course. But your doctor can help rule it out.
And remember early treatment leads to better outcomes.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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