Parkinson's Disease Medications
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. There are medications available to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but there are no medications that can cure the disease. It is common for patients with Parkinson’s disease to take several medications at different times of the day to manage their symptoms.
How do Parkinson’s disease medications work?
Most symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain. There are medications available that can help supplement your natural dopamine to decrease Parkinson’s disease symptoms. These types of medications are called dopaminergic medications. They can help lessen tremors, improve movement coordination, and reduce muscle rigidity.
It is important to understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach to treating patients with Parkinson’s disease. Each patient is individually evaluated to figure out which medication or combination of medications works best for them.
What are the most common medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease symptoms?
Medications that increase dopamine include:
- Carbidopa/levodopa (Sinemet)
- Entacapone (Comtan)
- Carbidopa/levodopa/entacapone (Stalevo)
- Tolcapone (Tasmar)
- Selegiline (Eldepryl®, Zelapar)
- Rasagiline (Azilect)
- Safinamide (Xadago)
Medications that act like dopamine include:
- Pramipexole (Mirapex)
- Ropinirole (Requip)
Why is when I take medications important for Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease symptoms can be very different for each person with the disease. You may have symptoms at different times of the day and in different amounts. It is important to take medications on a specific schedule and stick to that schedule. This is to help decrease symptoms and to stop the medication from wearing off too soon. Even changing your medications by one hour may make your symptoms worse and increase your chance of falling.
If a medication wears off too soon or is not working well, let your health care provider know. They may change the schedule, the dose, or the medication. You may take multiple medications to improve your symptoms.
How can I work with my healthcare providers to establish the best times to take my medication?
You should share your schedule of Parkinson’s disease medications with all of your healthcare providers. It is helpful to note the time of day when your symptoms are at their best and worst and talk to your health care provider about this at regularly scheduled appointments. A timer or alarm can be used to remind you when it is time for the next dose.
When taking Parkinson’s disease medications, always ensure you are taking them at specific times of the day. Even an hour can make a big difference in your symptoms. Be sure to communicate your medication times and how well your symptoms are being controlled to all healthcare providers you encounter. Talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions about your medications.