Parkinson Disease: Understanding Your Medicines

Medicines are key to treating Parkinson disease. You may be given one or more medicines. Your healthcare provider will determine the best medicine for you. They will look at many things before choosing a medicine or medicines for you. Some of these things include:

  • Your symptoms

  • Other health issues you have

  • The medicines used to treat those other health issues

  • Your age

Be sure you know the names of your medicines. Know when and how to take them. Keep a list of your current medicines in your smartphone and a copy in your wallet. Ask your healthcare provider what side effects you might have. Also ask if you should not eat certain foods. If you drink, ask if it's OK to drink alcohol. Never share your medicines with another person. Some over-the-counter medicines may interact with your Parkinson medicines. Talk with your provider about herbal supplements or OTC medicines before using them.

Types of medicines*

Examples

How they help

levodopa combined with carbidopa

carbidopa-levodopa

Levodopa replaces missing dopamine. Carbidopa helps levodopa enter the brain with fewer side effects.

dopamine agonists

pramipexole, bromocriptine, ropinirole, rotigotine

Act the same way dopamine works in the brain

MAO-B inhibitors

selegiline, rasagiline

Help dopamine work longer

COMT inhibitors

entacapone, combination of carbidopa, levodopa, and entacapone

Taken with levodopa; help dopamine enter the brain and work longer

NMDA antagonists

amantadine

Reduce involuntary movements and tremors

anticholinergics

trihexyphenidyl, benztropine

Reduce tremors

*This chart is not a complete list of Parkinson medicines. It does not include side effects. It does not include how these interact with other medicines. Only a healthcare provider can recommend or prescribe these medicines.

The list of medicines does not include medicines that may treat other symptoms of Parkinson disease. These include depression, psychosis, and urinary symptoms. Talk with your pharmacist if you have questions about medicines or how they interact with other medicines.

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