Parkinson’s disease for years has been best treated with a variety of medications such as levodopa, and a variety of dopamine agonists that help the body produce enough dopamine to keep the symptoms like tremors and shaking to a minimum. The only alternative to medications has been surgery like deep brain stimulation.
However, for the past year or so, there has been a new alternative that passed with FDAs approval. It is a skin patch geared towards the disease in its early stages. Called Neupro, this skin patch release the medication needed to tone down symptoms. This is a great move for people with the disease that have trouble swallowing pills.
In a normally functioning brain, there are nerve cells in a crescent shaped area called the substania nigra. These nerve cells produce dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter which sends signals to other parts of the brain responsible for motor coordination as well as pleasure and rewards centers. With Parkinson’s disease, the nerve cells that produce dopamine start to die or become impaired in some way.
The progression of Parkinson’s is a gradual process. You may have the disease for several years before the symptoms become noticeable. In fact, scientists now believe there are signs that could clue you in if only you knew what to look for.
Sense of smell, spells of depression and even unexplained fatigue in the years leading up to the diagnosis are just a few of these clues. Eventually the tremors, limb rigidity, shakiness, slow movements and balance problems are too noticeable to ignore. As the disease progresses, symptoms are more pronounced and can hinder independence in daily tasks.
Daily Patches Convenient
The Neupro skin patches are created to be changed each day and are reminiscent of a self adhesive bandage. You just peel back the protective backing to expose the sticky side and adhere to the skin. This daily patch contains a new dopamine agonist formulation called rotigotine. This new drug works to impersonate the effects of dopamine in the brain in the hopes of calming disease symptoms.
Oral medications for Parkinson’s are taken every day and can be quite effective but there is often a let-down period when the drug wears off before the next prescribed dosage. The beauty of the Neupro skin patch is that it provides a continuous release of medication so there is no wearing down time. The effectiveness of the patch was so promising that the FDA pushed through approval.
Neupro Side Effects
As with any drug, there are a few side effects to the new Neuro skin patch for Parkinson’s. First of all, you might have a minor skin reaction at the patch site. Sleeplessness, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness are common but most dopamine agonists, even the pill form, can cause these side effects.
It is important to note that while this new skin patch is effective, there are some warnings as to its use. For example, wearing the skin patch can cause sudden sleep attacks which can prove detrimental should you be driving a car or operating complicated machinery. Hallucinations are known to occur as well as postural hypotension.
The Neuro skin patch should be tested when you are in a safe location and have other people playing chauffeur or cook for you, at least until you have tried the new patch out for several days to ensure you don’t display any harmful side effects.
All drugs and medical aids have different effects, as everyone’s body chemistry is different. Given that, the Neupro patch is still quite a revolutionary treatment, so be sure to ask about it the next time you are in for a check-up for your Parkinson’s disease.