Treating Parkinson's Disease with Medication

Aug 19, 2016

Treating Parkinson's Disease with Medication

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Slowed movement, stiffness, and loss of balance – if a senior recognizes these symptoms, it may be time to get tested for Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic central nervous system disorder that affects an individual’s ability to move. There are over 200,000 cases of Parkinson’s disease per year in the United States alone, and typically affects people in the second half of their lives.

Following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, you might be scared, worried and unsure of what to do next. While this disease is currently considered “incurable," every year great strides are made in the form of new medications that treat the disorder.

A few decades ago, those that were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease would expect to have a rapidly progressing disease, along with a very low quality of life. Today, those diagnosed with the disease have dozens of forms of treatment, and will likely be prescribed a medication regimen that will help keep symptoms to a minimum.

Common Medications to Treat PD

Here are some of the most common medications to become familiar with if you or a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease:

Sinemet (Levodopa)

Sinemet is a drug whose primary ingredient is Levodopa. Levodopa is a medication that produces dopamine for the brain. Despite its helpfulness, Levodopa can come along with some nasty side effects, such extreme nausea, so Sinemet includes another drug called Carbidopa, that helps reduce or eliminate many of the side effects. Physicians typically recommend taking Sinemet on an empty stomach.

Requip

Requip is considered to be a Dopamine agonist, which is a drug that activates the dopamine receptors in an individual’s brain. Other similar drugs include Mirapex and Neupro. Dopamine agonists are typically the first medication a physician will prescribe following a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

Anticholinergics

Anticholinergics include drugs such as Cogentin and Artane, and help the individual with Parkinson’s disease restore the balance in their brain chemicals.

COMT Inhibitors

COMT inhibitors increase the effectiveness of levodopa. When COMT is blocked, dopamine is retained and used more effectively, reducing many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

These are just a few of the most common medications you will come in contact with if you’re diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. As you can see, many of the medications revolve around Dopamine production in the brain. This is because many of the changes that occur in the brain during Parkinson’s disease have to do with an insufficient amount of Dopamine. The lessening amount of dopamine results in miss-firing nerve patterns, which results in tremors and other symptoms.

All medications listed above have short-term and long-term side effects that affect each person differently. Please speak to your physician about possible side effects and their severity.

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Frequently Asked Questions

My father has just been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease but he won't accept it. Why won't he accept that he has this disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder that is going to greatly affect your father for the rest of his life. When someone finds out they have a chronic condition like this, their shock can quickly turn into denial of the disease.

You can help your loved one overcome Parkinson’s disease denial by being supportive. Help them learn everything they can about their condition. Help make sure they are taking medications and following their treatment plan. Try and schedule some time for your father’s physician to sit with them and go over all of their concerns.

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How does a doctor know that someone has Parkinson's disease?

If you find that you are suffering from the signs or symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, you will need to visit a neurologist. There are not currently any specific tests to diagnose Parkinson’s disease, but there are ways that your doctor will determine if you have the disease or not.

They will thoroughly examine your medical history and perform a neurological exam to assess your motor functionality and balance. They will use a blood test to rule out other conditions or diseases that could be causing your symptoms. Neurologists can use various imaging test to differentiate between PD and other disorders with similar symptoms. Then, they will enter all of your test results into the United Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale. This tool will help them determine if you have the disease and help monitor the progression of your symptoms.

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