Amantadine for Parkinson's Disease
How It Works
Amantadine is a medicine that is used to treat and prevent infection with influenza (flu) viruses. It also is effective in treating some symptoms of Parkinson's disease, although it is not clear how it works. Amantadine may cause greater amounts of dopamine to be released in the brain, and it may block receptors for acetylcholine, a brain chemical that contributes to control of movement. For normal motor or muscle control, acetylcholine and dopamine levels need to be balanced carefully.
Why It Is Used
Amantadine can be used by itself to treat people who are in the early stages of Parkinson's disease. It is best used in people who have mild to moderate symptoms.
Amantadine also can be used with levodopa in the later stages of Parkinson's disease to reduce dyskinesias.
How Well It Works
Amantadine can reduce dyskinesias in some people taking levodopa long-term for Parkinson's disease.1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
- Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
- Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
- If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
- Trouble breathing.
- Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor right away if you have:
- Blurred vision.
- Confusion or hallucinations.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Swelling of the hands, feet, or legs.
Common side effects of this medicine include:
- Agitation, anxiety, or nervousness.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Nausea or loss of appetite.
- Purplish red blotchy spots on skin.
- Trouble sleeping or nightmares.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Amantadine doesn't work for everyone. It may take up to 2 weeks to be fully effective. Benefits can continue for as long as 1 year but often wear off during that period of time.
Do not drink alcohol when you are using this medicine. Alcohol can make some of the side effects of amantadine worse, such as dizziness, fainting, or confusion.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
- Pahwa R, et al. (2006). Practice parameter: Treatment of Parkinson disease with motor fluctuations and dyskinesia (an evidence-based review). Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology, 66(7): 983–985. Also available online: http://www.neurology.org/content/66/7/983.full.
Last Revised: December 5, 2012
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