Parkinson's disease mostly affects older people but can also occur in younger adults. The symptoms are the result of the gradual degeneration of nerve cells in the portion of the midbrain that controls body movements. The first signs are likely to be barely noticeable -- a feeling of weakness or stiffness in one limb, or a fine trembling of one hand when it is at rest. Eventually, the shaking (tremor) worsens and spreads, muscles become stiffer, movements slow down, and balance and coordination...
Symptoms change as the
disease progresses. Because of this, your doctor will adjust your medicine to deal
with the symptoms as they appear.
Medicines often improve symptoms, but they also may cause side effects. It
may take some time to find the best combination of medicines for you.
Several medicines may be used at
different stages of the disease:
Levodopa and carbidopa
Dopamine agonists (for example, pramipexole or ropinirole)
MAO-B inhibitors (rasagiline,
Anticholinergic agents (for example, benztropine or trihexyphenidyl)
Levodopa is thought to be the most effective drug for controlling symptoms. But many doctors prescribe dopamine agonists in the beginning of the disease. This is because after a few years, levodopa can cause motor complications (times when the medicine suddenly stops working or when
you have uncontrollable jerking movements). Talk to your doctor about which medicines are best for you.
Increasing, decreasing, or stopping
the medicines you are taking may cause big changes in your symptoms and can be
dangerous. Even if a medicine doesn't seem to be working, when you stop taking
it, your symptoms of Parkinson's disease may be worse.
Taking medicine with food
Early in the disease, it might be helpful to take pills with food to help
with nausea, which may be caused by some of the medicines for Parkinson's
Later in the disease, taking the medicines at least 1 hour before
meals (and at least 2 hours after meals) may help them work best.
medicines for Parkinson's disease don't work as well if you take them at the
same time you eat food with protein in it, such as meat or cheese. The protein
can block the medicine and keep it from working as well as it should.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 18, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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