Medication Awareness & Medical Support
There are a variety of medications for Parkinson’s. Discussing with your neurologist what the right medication for you is along with how and when to take it is vital and should be the first step in any self-management process. Your medication needs will evolve over time so it is important that they are monitored and reviewed properly by your neurologist. Once you are confident you are taking the correct medication, the following are important:
Understand your medication. Learning how your medication works is beneficial but more important is understanding what your medication is supposed to do for you. That way, you will be better equipped to notice any changes and/or improvements in your condition.
Read the instructions that come with your medication. In particular note any specific requirements relating to meals, water and the time at which it should be taken. For example:
Does your medication have to be taken with food or on an empty stomach?
How much water should you drink when swallowing your tablets or should your medication be taken at specific times during the day?
Be aware of potential side effects of Parkinson’s medication. Ensure you read the information leaflet to make yourself aware of these, which may be physical and / or psychological. If you notice any changes in your sleep pattern, mood or behaviour, please consult your neurologist immediately, as these “non-motor factors” could stem from taking your medication.
Learning how your medication works is beneficial but more important is understanding what your medication is supposed to do. For example, do you know which medication protects the dopamine you have and which one is used to increase the level of dopamine in your body?
The aim of all Parkinson’s medication is to increase the level of dopamine in the body and while there are many types available, the three most commonly used groups of medication are:
Scientific Name: Levodopa
Function: These drugs contain a chemical called levodopa that the brain can convert into dopam
Scientific Name: Dopamine Agonists
Function: These drugs trick the brain into believing it has more dopamine by “copying” the effects of dopamine
Scientific Name: Monoamine Oxidase B (MAO-B) Inhibitors
Function: These drugs protect current levels of dopamine by blocking enzymes that break it down thereby rendering it ineffective