Carbidopa and Levodopa: Uses & Side Effects

Carbidopa and levodopa is a combination medicine used to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as muscle stiffness, tremors, spasms, and poor muscle control. Parkinson’s disease may be caused by low levels of a chemical called dopamine (DOE pa meen) in the brain.

Levodopa is converted to dopamine in the brain. Carbidopa helps prevent the breakdown of levodopa before it can reach the brain and take effect. It is also used to treat Parkinson symptoms caused by carbon monoxide poisoning or manganese intoxication

Uses

If you already take levodopa, you must stop taking it at least 12 hours before you start taking carbidopa and levodopa.

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Carbidopa and levodopa can be taken with or without food. Take your doses at regular intervals to keep a steady amount of the drug in your body at all times. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

Do not crush, chew, break, or open a carbidopa and levodopa capsule. Swallow it whole.

The tablet is sometimes broken in half to give the correct dose. Always swallow a whole or half tablet without chewing or crushing.

To take the orally disintegrating tablet (Parcopa):

  • Keep the tablet in the bottle until you are ready to take it.
  • Use dry hands to remove the tablet and place it on your tongue.
  • Do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing. Swallow several times as the tablet dissolves.

It may take up to several weeks of using carbidopa and levodopa before your symptoms improve. For best results, keep using the medication as directed. Talk with your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after a few weeks of treatment. Also tell your doctor if the effects of this medication seem to wear off quickly in between doses.

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • uncontrolled muscle movements in your face (chewing, lip smacking, frowning, tongue movement, blinking or eye movement);
  • worsening of tremors (uncontrolled shaking);
  • severe or ongoing vomiting or diarrhea;
  • confusion, hallucinations, unusual changes in mood or behavior;
  • depression or suicidal thoughts; or
  • severe nervous system reaction–very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out.

Some people taking carbidopa and levodopa have fallen asleep during normal daytime activities such as working, talking, eating, or driving. Tell your doctor if you have any problems with daytime sleepiness or drowsiness.

You may have increased sexual urges, unusual urges to gamble, or other intense urges while taking this medicine. Talk with your doctor if this occurs.

You may notice that your sweat, urine, or saliva appears dark in color, such as red, brown, or black. This is not a harmful side effect, but it may cause staining of your clothes or bed sheets.

Common side effects may include:

  • jerky or twisting muscle movements;
  • muscle contractions; or
  • nausea.

Keywords: Carbidopa and levodopa.

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