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Treating Non-motor Symptoms of Parkinson's

Neurologists List Top Treatments for Constipation, Sleep, Sexual Problems Associated With Parkinson's
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 15, 2010 -- The American Academy of Neurology has issued new guidelines outlining what it says are the most effective treatments for non-motor symptoms common in people with Parkinson’s disease.

These include sleep disturbances, fatigue, constipation, and sexual problems, which the AAN says are often unrecognized symptoms.

The guidelines say that:

  • Erectile dysfunction, which is common, can be treated with the drug sildenafil citrate.
  • Constipation can be improved by the drug isosmotic macrogol.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness can often be treated with modafinil, which helps people feel more awake.
  • Fatigue may be eased by taking the drug methylphenidate.

"While the main symptom of Parkinson’s disease is movement problems, there are many other symptoms to be aware of, including sleep disorders, constipation, and problems with urination and sexual function," says lead guideline author Theresa Z. Zesiewicz, MD, of the University of South Florida. "Without treatment, these symptoms can cause as much pain and discomfort as movement problems and greatly affect daily routines and quality of life."

Two questionnaire tests are available to help identify non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s, the guideline says, though people should talk to their doctors about whether the rating systems might actually prove helpful.

The guideline information is published in the March 16 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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