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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 medicines are taken can affect what activities are possible later on. You should also be aware that as the disease progresses your medicines may not work as well or as long as they did before. Your doctor may prescribe different medicines. Or, you may need to take the same medicines more often.

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

Timing is important

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

Staying on track

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

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

  • Take ALL your medicines. 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 medicines aren’t working as well.

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

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

  • Tell your doctor if you have problems swallowing pills. 

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

Coping with side effects

You may have some side effects when you start taking medicines. 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 medicine causes confusion, hallucinations, or involuntary movements.  Some people have an unusual  desire to gamble or engage in other obsessive behaviors. Your doctor may adjust the amount of medicine you take. Or, you may be given another type.

Online Medical Reviewer: Campellone, Joseph, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Last Review Date: 9/28/2015
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