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Parkinson’s Disease: Tips for Taking Medications

Parkinson’s symptoms are much easier to manage with a good medication routine. In particular, the timing of when medications are taken can affect what activities are possible later on. You should also be aware that as the disease progresses your medications may not work as well or as long as they did before. Your doctor may prescribe different medications. Or, you may need to take the same medications more often.

Senior man shaking out pills into his hand.
Take medications at the same time each day.

Timing Is Important

Parkinson’s medications can be a big help. But they may only work well for a certain amount of time before symptoms return. For best results, take medications at the same time each day. It can also help to keep a medication diary. Write down how long it takes for medications to work, and how long it takes before symptoms return. This makes it easier to plan activities for times you’ll feel your best. It also helps your doctor adjust your medications when you're having problems. 

Staying On Track

Below are tips for taking medications. If you have questions about your medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist:

  • Use a pillbox or divided tray to keep track of medications.

  • Take ALL your medications. Don’t take 1 type and skip another.

  • Avoid taking levodopa at the same time you eat protein (such as meat or beans). Ask your doctor which times are best.

  • Talk to your doctor if you notice your medications aren’t working as well.

  • Keep a list of your medications and bring it to doctor’s appointments.

  • Plan ahead. Be sure to refill prescriptions before they run out. Take medications with you when you travel.

  • Tell your doctor if you have problems swallowing pills. 

  • Never change your dosage or stop taking medication without talking to your doctor.

Coping with Side Effects

You may have some side effects when you start taking medications. This does not mean you should stop taking them. Instead, talk to your doctor. Be sure to mention side effects, such as nausea, lightheadedness, leg swelling, and sleep problems. Also mention if any medication causes confusion, hallucinations, or involuntary movements. Your doctor may adjust the amount of medication you take. Or, you may be given another type of medication.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bernstein, Allan L, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Merrilees, Jennifer, RN, MS, PhD
Last Review Date: 10/12/2011
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.