People with Parkinson’s Disease often take many different medications on a regular basis to help manage their symptoms. Although prescribed because their benefits outweigh the potential risks, medications meant to help with a health condition can cause a range of problematic side effects, and this is currently the case with Parkinson’s disease. With a variety of potential side effects, drug interactions, allergies, and other concerns, how can you better manage the side effects of Parkinson’s medications? Nightingale Homecare, a provider of Phoenix live-in home health care and caregiving services in the surrounding areas, shares tips to make sure the person you love is safe while under treatment.
Parkinson’s disease often starts slowly with slight hand tremors and then progresses gradually with worsening symptoms affecting movement and speech. Although there is no cure, medications and other treatments may reduce symptoms by helping with muscle rigidity, lessening tremors, and improving movement.
Considerations and Side Effects of Parkinson’s Medications
Medications are part of the treatment plan for Parkinson’s disease, but with any drug, there are potential concerns to be aware of. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if changes in symptoms or behaviors are actually changes in the disease or if they have another cause, such as an environmental change or medication side effect. A Parkinson’s treatment plan takes some trial and error, especially since everyone responds differently to medications, and plans will vary depending on individual needs. Also, the treatment plan may change over time as symptoms progress or as medications become less effective. With any new medication or change, it is important to talk with a physician about any concerns. Here are some things to consider:
- Medication side effects. Medications may have side effects that contribute to new symptoms or changes in behavior. The following are some possible side effects for Parkinson’s medications:
- Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
- Orthostatic hypotension or lightheadedness upon standing
- Dyskinesia – involuntary or uncontrollable movements
- Sleepiness or insomnia
- Compulsive behaviors
- Intolerance. Some people may not be able to tolerate a particular medication or dosage amount.
- Allergy. Some people may be allergic to specific ingredients in the medication.
- Interactions. New medications may interact with specific foods, other medications, herbal supplements, vitamins, over-the counter medications, and more.
- Changing medications. Some people may have withdrawal side effects from stopping a medication or from changing to a new one.
- Generic vs. brand-name medications. While generic forms of medications are often more affordable, the medications may not have the same effectiveness, causing people to respond to them differently. Talk with the physician to see if one form is better than another.
It is important to speak with a doctor if you notice a loved one exhibiting any new side effects or changes in behavior especially with any medication, dosage, or scheduling change.
Managing Side Effects of Parkinson’s Medications
To help cope with the possible side effects of Parkinson’s medications, try these recommendations:
- Know what to watch out for. When a loved one is prescribed a new medication, talk with the doctor to make sure you are aware of any possible side effects to watch for. Also discuss any other medications or supplements the person is taking to make sure there are no drug interactions.
- Follow dosing instructions. Make sure dosing directions are carefully followed to maximize effectiveness and to help reduce side effects. Follow the exact schedule and dosing amounts as prescribed by the doctor and any instructions regarding taking the medication with or without food.
- Set a routine. Someone managing Parkinson’s disease may be taking several medications, and it can be difficult to keep track of the different doses and schedules. Developing and sticking to a routine can help.
- Use reminders. Pill organizers and alarms on smartphones can help you keep up with a medication schedule without missing doses.
- Manage nausea. Nausea is a common side effect of some Parkinson’s medications. Having a bland snack, such as crackers, bread/toast, or rice, can help settle the stomach.
- Keep track of symptoms. It can help to keep a log of any new symptoms or behavioral changes, especially when there’s a new medication or change in dosing. This information will be helpful to review with a physician to see if any changes need to be made. To help reduce side effects, a doctor may decide to:
- Change the dose or switch to an extended-release form of the medication, if available.
- Change the schedule of when medications are taken. For example, a medication that makes a person tired during the day may be switched to the evening; a medication that causes insomnia might be switched to earlier in the day.
Medications are only part of a treatment plan for Parkinson’s disease. Based on the needs of each individual, other parts of the plan may include exercise, physical therapy, speech therapy, and more.
Nightingale Homecare, a leading provider of Phoenix live-in home health care and services in the surrounding areas, is available to help individuals managing Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. We provide a range of in-home medical and non-medical care services as well as our Journeys Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Program. This program helps individuals improve their fine motor function, movement, and communication skills, which can help reduce depression, boost confidence, and reduce the risk of falls.