Treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) may involve medications designed to slow the loss of dopamine in the brain or drugs which may improve other symptoms of these patients. All of the drugs used for PD have been proven to positively affect the symptoms and improve quality of life in patients suffering from the disease. Specialists for Parkinson’s disease, sometimes known as movement disorder specialists, should decide about the course of treatment and your best bet is to consult these doctors even if you only suspect to have this disease.
Besides the medications, this disease may also be treated surgically, especially in patients who happen to be unresponsive or mildly responsive to the drugs.
Levodopa or L-dopa is probably the most frequently prescribed PD drug, since it is proven to efficiently control rigidity and bradykinesia associated with this disease. Once the drug gets into the bloodstream, it is transported to the nerve cells of the brain and there converted to dopamine, causing positive effects.
Combination of L-dopa and carbidopa is known as Sinemet and this medication is found to be more effective than L-dopa alone. Carbidopa is responsible for the increased efficacy and also for fewer adverse effects, compared to levodopa. However, Sinemet may provoke: nausea, vomiting or heart arrhythmias, which can be resolved taking the drug on an empty stomach.
Long-term use of this drug may cause dyskinesia (involuntary movements), some abnormal movements, restlessness or confusion. Because of these unwanted effects many doctors rather prescribe another drug for initial treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
These drugs, such as Requip or Mirapex work by activating dopamine receptors, mimicking the function of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine agonists can be used alone as the first line of treatment or in combination with Sinemet. Problems with these drugs are: nausea, vomiting, confusion, dizziness, light-headedness and hallucinations.
SYmmetrel works by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. It can be used in mild Parkinson’s’ disease and may decrease dyskinesia provoked by levodopa treatment. Reported side effects are memory problems and confusion.
Other Drugs Used to Treat Parkinson’s disease
Artane and Cogentin, as anticholinergics work by decreasing the amount of acetylcholine in the brain, which leads to decreased stiffness and tremor. These drugs are rarely used, especially in elderly. Eldepryl or Deprenyl prevent destruction of dopamine and these may slow further progression of PD. These drugs may cause drug interactions, with antidepressants, Demerol and some other medications, so it’s best to consult the doctor before the start of the treatment. Tasmar and Comtan are COMT (catechol-ortho-methyl transferase) inhibitors can also be used in PD treatment, to decrease the symptoms and increase effectiveness of L-dopa.