Parkinson's Disease Medications

Parkinson's Disease Medications - There are six separate classes of medication available on the market to assist Parkinson's disease patients manage the symptoms of their illness (and the possible side effects of medication), including: levodopa, dopaminergic agonists, anitcholinergics, amantadine, momamine-oxidase B inhibitors (MAO-B), and COMT inhibitors.

Parkinson's disease is connected to low levels of dopamine in the brain due to the loss of dopamine cells in the substantia nigra section of the brain. It's not known what causes the cells to stop producing dopamine. Treatment with pharmacological therapies is determined on an individual basis, depending on the severity and symptoms of each person with Parkinson's disease, but three of the top Parkinson's disease medications include:

Levodopa: the original drug approved specifically for use in treating Parkinson's disease in the 1970s, levodopa is the most commonly prescribed Parkinson's disease medications to combat the disease. Levodopa is absorbed by the brain and turned into dopamine that is stored in nerve cells, which helps to replenish dopamine levels depleted by the loss of cells that produce it naturally in a healthy individual. By boosting the level of dopamine in the brain, levodopa will, for most Parkinson's disease patients, result in significantly improved motor function and mobility although there may be side effects such as hallucinating or nausea.

Levodopa should be combined with a peripheral inhibitor to sustain its effect and to allow more levodopa to reach the brain. The peripheral inhibitor can also lessen unpleasant side effects, such as vomiting. Sinemet, the most common brand name under which levodopa is sold, contains a peripheral inhibitor, carbidopa, so that it does not need to be taken separately.

Dopaminergic agonists: these target specific cells in the substantial nigra (the part of the brain where dopamine would normally be produced in a healthy person), where they are able to imitate dopamine.

Essentially, the dopaminergic agonists stimulate the dopaminergic receptors in the brain and then bind to them as naturally produced dopamine would. Considered the second most effective Parkinson's disease medication for in combating the effects of Parkinson's disease, dopaminergic agonists such as Parlodel (bromocriptine), Requip (ropinirole) and Permax (pergolide), are often used in conjunction with levodopa for maximum effect.

COMT inhibitors: catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is an enzyme that contributes to the breakdown of levodopa and dopamine in the body. COMT inhibitors block this breakdown action in the brain and in the intestine, therefore allowing more levodopa to be available for the brain. A peripheral COMT inhibitor, Entacapone (Comtan) is administered with each dose of levodopa to extend the period of positive motor function response to levodopa. In essence, the COMT inhibitor reduces mobility down time between doses.

Parkinson's disease is a complicated illness that manifests itself in a wide variety of symptoms from facial tics to the loss of ability to walk, talk, or swallow. By combining targeted pharmacological Parkinson's disease medications, most patients are able to benefit from each drug while at the same time minimizing side effects.

Although dosages and perhaps even the kind of drugs necessary may change as the disease progresses, a proper Parkinson's disease medication therapy program can help most Parkinson's patients add years of independent, high-quality living to their lives.

Side Effects from Parkinson's disease Medications

Side effects are a part of life when one takes medication on a consistent basis and that is as true for Parkinson's disease medications as it is for any disease. Not all individuals react the same to medications and some people experience more side effects than others. Let's take a look at some of the most common side effects of the most widely prescribed Parkinson's disease medications.

Levodopa (often abbreviated to L-dopa) has been around for the past thirty years and it remains to date one of the most effective and most popular forms of medications for Parkinson's patients. This drug is particularly known for its ability to reduce tremors and to improve slowness of movement.

The most often experienced side effect of levodopa is nausea and vomiting. Other side effects that are often noted are dizziness and dry mouth. With increased dosages some people suffer moments of confusion, experience hallucinations and in extreme cases, suffer a psychotic episode.

Mirapex, Permax and Requip are part of a successful group of Parkinson's disease medication drugs known as dopamine agonists that are often prescribed to Parkinson's patients. Lesser-known drugs that fall into this category include Dostinex, Dopergine and Parlodel.

Compared with other drugs prescribed for this neurological condition, studies have found that dopamine agonists carry with them an increased risk of involuntary sleeplessness. One such study, which appeared in the August 2005 issue of the Archive Neurology, showed that one out of five Parkinson's patients fell victim to unexpectedly and uncontrollably dropping off to sleep at inconvenient times of the day. The sleep episode varied from person to person. Some were only asleep for a few minutes while others remained that way for many hours. This side effect, which is often a side effect with other medications but has a much higher incidence with dopamine agonists, could prove potentially dangerous if it took place when the patient was driving a vehicle or operating any kind of machinery.

Besides sleepiness, other side effects of dopamine agonists include nausea, vomiting, dizziness upon standing, drowsiness, and dry mouth. Many patients who experience these systems find that they disappear within the span of a few days. In some people taking dopamine agonists confusion, hallucinations and even psychosis can occur. Patients exhibiting any of these more serious symptoms should be monitored closely by their doctor as they use these Parkinson's disease medications.

Another Parkinson's disease medication sometimes prescribed for Parkinson's is called Amantadine (brand name Symmetrel). The possible side effects of this drug include a difficulty in concentrating on tasks, insomnia, confusion, being easily irritated and hallucinations. It can also cause legs to swell and the appearance of blotchy skin on the legs.

Another group of Parkinson's disease medications prescribed for Parkinson's are called Anticholinergic medications. This group of drugs includes Akineton, Artane, Cogentin and Kemadrin. The possible side effects of taking any one of these drugs include blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, retaining of urine and delirium. Confusion and hallucination sometimes occur in certain individuals.

Selegiline preparations for Parkinson's disease include the brand names Atapryl, Carbex and Eldepryl. The side effects of these drugs included dry mouth, nausea, dizziness and heartburn. Less frequently experienced side effects include confusion, headaches, hallucinations and nightmares.



A lot more besides Parkinson's disease medications back at the home page.

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