Since Parkinson’s disease is brought on due to the lack of dopamine in the brain much of the treatment for the disease relies on means of replacing, stimulating and substituting this chemical. Although some very effective drugs have been developed in the treatment of Parkinson’s they do however have their disadvantages, therefore the treatment of the disease does not just rely on medication. Several other non-drug approaches are may be combined with dug therapy, such as exercise, dietary modification and psychotherapy to assist with coping.
As Parkinson’s is a chronic disease which progresses the overall aim of the treatment is to maintain the sufferer’s quality of life for as long as possible and not to cure the disease itself. The type of treatment available for you depends on certain factors such as:
- The severity of your symptoms.
- How much distress the symptoms cause you.
- Assessment of possible drug treatments.
- Your personal circumstances.
In order to determine the best possible treatment for the individual doctor and patient will need to be open and honest. This means that if you don’t understand anything that your doctor tells you, you must ask them to make themselves clear. Also you should voice any concerns, fears or worries that you may have regarding the disease.
Starting symptomatic therapy
The decision of when to actually begin treatment is one that is made between the patient and their Doctor and several factors are taken into account, these are the degree of impairment, the effects the symptoms are having on the patient’s employment and the patient’s attitude towards taking medication. If the patient fully understands the limitations and benefits they can reap from the medication then their preference will count for a lot in the decision making process.
The patients understanding makes a huge difference because many times over the treatment period they will have to be re-evaluated and have their medication adjusted with the progression of the disease or the patients response to the therapy. It is therefore in the best interests of both parties that they develop a partnership from the very beginning.
The initial treatment options
The patient’s age and condition will make a huge difference to the choice of initial treatment; the drug Levodopa is usually the first choice of medication for those sufferers who are elderly. A dopamine agonist will usually be chosen for the younger patient as younger people are more tolerant of the side effects the drug can produce.
In the younger patients delaying of the onset of motor skills problems is also a huge concern with Selegiline, amantadine or anticholinergic medication being excellent initial treatments for mild symptoms of the disease, providing of course that the side effects most of these medications produce can be tolerated.
If depression and anxiety are one of the concerns then this will usually be treated with medications such as anti-depressants, it is thought that over 50% of all those suffering with Parkinson’s disease will also suffer from depression and anxiety.
Some people with Parkinson’s may from time to time have to visit the hospital when on medication for the disease, this allows for your progress to be checked and alteration to the dosage or drugs needed to be changed depending on your progress. Studies show that early use of Rasagiline may slow down Parkinson’s. It is important that if medication is prescribed for your condition then you know exactly how much to take and when to take it. The patient should also be aware of any possible side effects from the drugs and what steps they need to take in the case of an adverse reaction to the drug.