Parkinson’s Disease results from the dopamine producing neurons in the substantia nigra becoming damaged or destroyed. An obvious treatment is to supplement the missing dopamine with medication.
Unfortunately, treatment with dopamine itself isn’t possible, because dopamine doesn’t cross the body’s blood-brain barrier. The tightly packed cells in the walls of the brain’s capillaries prevent certain substances from crossing into the brain, including dopamine. As a result, dopamine cannot be directly administered to a patient to boost their dopamine levels to reduce or reverse the effects of Parkinsons.
However, a range of other medications and treatments can be used to treat Parkinsons. Medications can also be used to manage problems cause by various Parkinsons symptoms, including walking, general movement, and tremors by increasing the brain’s supply of dopamine.
For many people with Parkinson’s, the initial improvement following treatment with drugs and medicines can be dramatic. However, over time the benefits of drugs frequently diminish or become less consistent, although symptoms can usually still be fairly well controlled. Because medications may become less effective over time, your doctor will also recommend lifestyle changes, such as physical therapy, a healthy diet, and exercise.
For many Parkinsons medications, the dosage needs to be adjusted over time to improve the effectiveness of the drugs, and/or to manage the side-effects of the drugs. Your doctor will work with you to design a treatment program that best suits your situation.
The medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease include:
Levodopa (carbidopa, benserazide)
Selegiline (Atapryl, Carbex, Eldepryl)
COMT Inhibitors (Entacapone, Tolcapone)
Amantadine (Symmetrel, Symadine)
Note: The listd side-effects for these medications is not complete, and patients should consult their physician if these or other side-effects develop while they are taking any of these medications. It may be necessary to change the dosage of your medication or change to another medication which may be more suitable for you.