Parkinson(ism) speech and panting breath

Hi everyone,
this is my first time here. My dad is 73 and the doctors are finally starting to think that his combination of symptoms might be parkinsonism. At the moment the most severe impact is on his ability to speak (struggles to articulate sounds and syllables), a problem which he managed to hide for a few years (he’s recently admitted it). However, more recently he has developed a panting style of breathing, very shallow and fast. Tests have shown that there is nothing wrong with his heart or lungs and the doctors suspect the panting is a type of psychologically driven hyper-venterlating. I’m working with him on breathing exercises to try to get it under control when he’s not speaking, but it becomes so difficult when he starts trying to speak. A neurology referral is at least 12 months away, and there doesn’t seem to be any support available either medically or speech therapy.
Does anyone else have any experience of this problem and any advice or tips on exercises we can do that will help him?
Thank you.

Hi and welcome to the forum, @Lancashire_Sandra. You’ll find everyone very friendly here and I’m sure that some members will chat to you soon. I’m sorry to hear about your dad and his struggles with speech and breathing. Both are common challenges.

That does sound like a very long wait for the neurologist. Are you getting any GP support in the meantime?

There’s an interesting article with breathing exercises at: Keeping your lungs healthy | Parkinson's UK. I hope you find it useful. For information about speech difficulties you may find this page helpful.

I’d also encourage you to call our helpline to speak to one of our advisers about this. You can reach them on 0808 800 0303 and they’ll be happy to offer you more advice and support on this.

Wishing you both the very best,
Forum Moderation Team

Hi Janice,
Thank you for your reply. These links have some really useful practical advice. We’re not getting much support at all from the GP surgery, although we’re waiting for an initial physiotherapy appointment. He just feels really alone and keeps saying that he just wants to be normal again, and then gets distressed which is very upsetting.

Hi @Lancashire_Sandra

I noticed your post because of the “Parkinsonism”

Ive just been diagnosed with Parkinsonism caused by liver/brain issues with manganese toxicity.
I have all kinds of so far unexplained symptoms one of them is breathing and breathlessness.
It came in overnight literally.
I had every lung and heart test but no cause found. I was eventually referred to a respiratory therapist which has helped me manage my difficult breathing episodes.
I get out of breath talking, eating, doing nothing…!
Best info I got from the respiratory therapist was that when we start to think about breathing we usually get it wrong and do shallow hyper ventilating.
Think of this: breath in, breath out and hold- the hold for a second or two is the crucial bit!
Without the hold, you start hyperventilating.
I hope trying this will be a little help. Its hard not to feel anxious but staying calm and concentrating in breathing lightly and slowly does calm it all down. Really hope you can get some definitive answers soon!

Thank you for your reply and I hope you’re finding your symptoms manageable. My dad was eventually prescribed a mild anti-depressant as they thought his breathlessness was linked to anxiety, and it worked.