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What are some side effects of Parkinson's disease medications?

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Quick Answer

The side effects of Parkinson’s disease medications depend on the medication the doctor prescribes. For example, Sinemet, a combination of levodopa and carbidopa, causes long-term side effects of involuntary movements, according to WebMD. The levodopa in the medication causes confusion, restlessness and abnormal movements.

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Full Answer

Dopamine antagonists do not change into dopamine like levodopa but instead mimic its effects in the brain, explains Mayo Clinic. While some of the side effects of dopamine antagonists are similar to Sinemet, others include swelling, sleeplessness and hallucinations. Some people taking dopamine antagonists also experience compulsive behaviors, such as gambling, eating or hypersexuality.

Monoamine oxidase B, a brain enzyme, causes the breakdown of dopamine. MAO-B inhibitors prevent the enzyme from acting. These medications cause nausea or headaches on their own. Combining MAO-B inhibitors with Sinemet increases the risk of hallucinations, reports Mayo Clinic. MAO-B inhibitors also cause serious but rare interactions with narcotics and antidepressants. The side effect is severe enough that the medications are not usually used together.

Anticholinergics are an older class of Parkinson’s disease medication that help to control the tremor of the disease, notes Mayo Clinic. However, they offer limited benefits for the side effects they cause. People taking anticholinergics may experience memory impairment, hallucinations and confusion. Other side effects include difficulty in urination and constipation.

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