The levodopa therapy is essentially used as a part of the treatment procedure of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’ disease in a patient essentially involves motor problems like stiffness and trembling of limbs occurring due to lower levels of dopamine in the brain. The levodopa therapy helps in restoring the dopamine level so that the patient can have improved motor abilities. In a typical levodopa therapy, carbidopa is used along with the former. This particular combination proves to be effective and also, to a certain point, reduces the drug related side effects.
How Does The Levodopa Therapy Help Manage The Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease?
In order to understand the working of levodopa, one has to first understand the mechanism required in the treatment process-
Boosting Dopamine: The main aim of the treatment of Parkinson’s disease is to boost the level of the neurotransmitter called dopamine into the brain. This is because dopamine helps with the balance and movement of the body. Decreased level of dopamine causes muscle stiffness and other motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Practically, dopamine cannot be externally injected in the body, because it remains unable to pass through the blood brain barrier.
Levodopa: Levodopa, on the other hand can easily pass the blood brain barrier and convert into dopamine in the body.
Levodopa and Carbidopa: Levodopa is given to the patient in combination alongside Carbidopa. This increases the staying power of levodopa in the brain. Thus, when a combination of levodopa along with carbidopa is prescribed the doctor can go for a smaller dose of levodopa. This will prevent the patient from having extreme side effects of the levodopa drug.
When Can Levodopa Therapy Be Used In Parkinson’s Disease?
Primarily, levodopa therapy is used in any of the phases of Parkinson’s disease. It depends on the extremity of the symptoms, that a doctor prescribes the levodopa therapy to the patient. It should be remembered that prolonged use of levodopa may cause side effects like the on and off symptoms and wearing off in the patient. It is important to have a brief knowledge about all of the long term and short time side effects before starting a drug. The patient should discuss these with the doctor.
How Can A Patient With Parkinson’s Disease Benefit From The Levodopa Therapy?
Levodopa therapy is seen to be quite beneficial to treat the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The patient gets relieved from the symptoms of stiffness experienced in the disease. The patient may also find radical change with the speed of his movement. Before the onset of the therapy, his movements would be slow. After starting with the levodopa therapy he may not experience the same slowness.
What are the Major Risks of Using the Levodopa Therapy?
Like every medicinal drug, levodopa too comes with its share of risks and side effects. Prolonged use of levodopa may cause the following risks in a patient-
Impulsive Behavior: Few patients under levodopa therapy suffer from problems of impulsive behavior which cannot be otherwise explained. Doctors are of the opinion that this may be due to the side effect of levodopa.
Wearing Off Symptoms- The most common risk of using levodopa therapy is the symptom of wearing off. This is characterized by a phenomenon where the patient becomes extremely stiff when the effect of the drug wears off before the next dose so prescribed.
Dyskinesia: Patients are also seen to experience dyskinesia. This occurs when the patient suddenly is seen to have involuntary movements which are beyond his control.
Anxiety & Depression: Patients may experience pain, anxiety and even depression after prolonged use of levodopa. Mostly, these effects are seen to occur when the patient stops the use of this drug. Thus, they are known to be the withdrawal symptoms.
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