Parkinson’s Disease Treatment and Prognosis
If you are newly diagnosed, you might be anxious to learn about the different types of Parkinson's disease treatments, as well as their efficacy and side-effects. While there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, the right treatment can help control your symptoms and improve your quality of life. With this in mind, which is the best Parkinson's disease treatment for you, and could it affect your prognosis?
Parkinson’s Disease Treatment: What Are My Options?
There are various treatment options for Parkinson's disease. After you receive a formal Parkinson's diagnosis, your doctor will explore these possibilities with you. Common Parkinson's disease treatment options include:
- Physical therapy/exercise
- Surgical intervention
- Home remedies for Parkinson's
- Lifestyle changes
Your doctor may recommend one medication or a combination of Parkinson's disease treatments. Your course of treatment will depend on various factors, such as:
- The progression of Parkinson's symptoms
- Any other medical conditions in you or your family
- Other prescribed medications
- Your age and overall health status
Before you and your doctor can decide which treatment is right for you, you will need to explore treatment options for Parkinson's disease in more detail.
Which Is the Best Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease?
Let’s explore your options so that you know what to expect when you attend your first doctor’s appointment.
Medication for Parkinson’s Disease
Although there is currently no treatment that can slow or stop the progression of Parkinson's disease, medication can help you manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Medicines prescribed for Parkinson's patients include:
- Carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet): Levodopa is a drug that converts natural chemicals into dopamine in your brain. Carbidopa (also known as Lodosyn) prevents the early conversion of these chemicals outside your brain, which is why it is combined with levodopa. Carbidopa also helps control the side-effects of levodopa, such as nausea and light-headedness. This medication can also be administered intravenously for patients with advanced Parkinson's disease.
- Dopamine agonists: Instead of converting natural chemicals into dopamine, dopamine agonists mimic dopamine cells in your brain. Side-effects of this medication include compulsive behavior, sleepiness and hallucinations.
- Amantadine: This medicine can be prescribed as short-term Parkinson's disease treatment to help ease symptoms in the early stages. It is often given alongside carbidopa-levodopa. Amantadine is also prescribed in the later stages of Parkinson's disease to help control involuntary movements. Some patients report side effects such as mottling of the skin, swollen ankles and hallucinations.
Other medications for Parkinson’s disease include MAO B inhibitors, catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors and anticholinergics. Your doctor will explain all of these medications to you and help you decide on the best treatment option.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
Doctors usually recommend exercise to Parkinson’s patients as it helps improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility. Your doctor may also refer you to a physical therapist. You might also decide to try swimming, stretching or dancing. Not only do these activities have physical health benefits, but they can also help ward off depression and anxiety in Parkinson’s patients. Physical activities like gardening also provide therapeutic benefits.
Surgical Intervention: Deep Brain Stimulation
Surgery is sometimes offered to patients in the late stages of Parkinson’s disease, or to those who don’t respond well to Parkinson’s medication. The procedure is called deep brain stimulation (DBS), and it involves surgeons implanting electrodes into parts of your brain and connecting them to a generator in your chest. The electrodes then send signals to your brain to help it coordinate movement.
Surgery won't stop your Parkinson's from progressing, but it can help you control the symptoms. However, DBS also comes with an increased risk of strokes, infections and brain hemorrhaging, which is why it is usually offered as a last resort ("How Effective is Brain Surgery for Parkinson’s Disease?").
Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes
In addition to exercising and taking medication, your doctor may suggest you adjust your lifestyle to help you control your symptoms, Positive lifestyle changes include healthy eating, drinking plenty of fluids and attending Parkinson’s support groups. You may also want to research home remedies such as massage, tai chi and yoga – all of which can be helpful to those with Parkinson's disease.
What Is My Parkinson’s Disease Prognosis?
The outcome of Parkinson’s disease varies from person to person, though women with the disorder tend to live longer than men. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, you may be wondering about the course of your illness and your life expectancy. While there is no definitive prognosis for Parkinson’s, most doctors agree that the disease itself is not fatal. Health complications such as deep vein thrombosis and arterial blockage in the lungs can, however, shorten your lifespan with the condition, regardless of your age or gender.
These possible health complications may sound scary, but as long as you seek treatment, your life expectancy with Parkinson’s disease shouldn’t differ much from that of the general population.
Will Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Affect My Prognosis?
While no treatment will affect your Parkinson's disease prognosis, many patients find that a combination of medication, physical therapy and positive lifestyle changes help them control the symptoms of Parkinson's – even in the late stages of the disease.
If you have any questions about your diagnosis or you're concerned about your treatment options, talk to your doctor. You can also seek advice and support from the National Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline by calling 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636).
Smith, E. (2022, January 28). Parkinson’s Disease Treatment and Prognosis, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parkinsons-disease/treatment/parkinsons-disease-treatment-and-prognosis