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What are the Pros and Cons of Dopamine for Parkinson's?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 11 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Dopamine for Parkinson's can be a beneficial treatment, but it also comes with serious side effects and patients must be monitored to make sure they are striking a balance between the beneficial and deleterious effects. Initially, making up for decreased levels of this neurotransmitter with medication will help treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but eventually, the patient will start to experience dyskinesias, or disordered movements, as a result of the medication. Patients in treatment for Parkinson's are carefully evaluated to see how effective their medication regimens are and to make adjustments as necessary.

In patients with Parkinson's disease, dopamine levels start to drop due to changes to the brain structure. This results in tremors and a distinctive shuffling, bent gait. Providing patients with dopamine, usually in the form of a medication called levodopa, is a recognized method for managing the disease. Dopamine levels will continue to drop, even with medication, but the symptoms should subside and the patient will feel more comfortable.

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Over time, dopamine starts to build up in other areas of the body, as only a small amount of the medication can cross into the brain. This can cause nausea and the medication is usually offered in combination therapy with an antinausea drug to preempt this problem. The patient will also experience a problem with waxing and waning symptoms in the long term. This requires adjustments to the medication regimen. Eventually, the patient will start to have diminishing returns on dopamine, with tremors and other symptoms developing again and not stopping even with medication adjustments.

The obvious pro to dopamine for Parkinson's is the short-term reduction in symptoms. Using medication, patients may be able to work and enjoy hobbies longer and should also feel much more comfortable. Controlling symptoms can help patients feel better mentally as well, as many patients with this condition experience emotional distress as a result of the tremors. Especially for young patients, dopamine for Parkinson's can be very beneficial.

The cons of dopamine for Parkinson's are the side effects, including lower blood pressure while standing, nausea, and the eventual worsening of the movement disorder. Working with a doctor, patients can minimize the side effects of the medication to get the most benefit out of it before it is no longer effective. Many patients feel the tradeoff with dopamine for Parkinson's is acceptable. Working with an experienced doctor and pharmacist can help patients get the most out of the medication, and patients may also want to discuss other treatment options, including clinical trials of new Parkinson's drugs.

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