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Carbidopa and Levodopa

Carbidopa and Levodopa is a prescription used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. This disease affects mainly dopamine-producing neurons and a neurodegenerative disorder. It is in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. The 2 main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Slow movement
  • Involuntarily shaking of particular parts of the body
  • Stiff and inflexible muscles

People with this type of condition can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms such as:

  • Balance problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Problems sleeping or insomnia
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Memory problems

Parkinson’s disease is thought to be caused by too little of a naturally occurring substance (dopamine) in the brain. Levodopa changes into dopamine in the brain that helps to control movement. Carbidopa prevents the breakdown of Levodopa in the bloodstream, so more Levodopa can enter the brain. This combination may be used alone or with other drugs for Parkinson’s disease. This product is in the class of medications called central nervous system agents. In 1988, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this prescription.

Carbidopa and Levodopa are supplied as extended-release tablets.  Each tablet contains Carbidopa and Levodopa as an active ingredient. These drugs are an inhibitor of aromatic amino acid decarboxylation. It is a white crystalline compound that is slightly soluble in water. This prescription is available in the dosage forms of 25 mg/100 mg and 50 mg/200 mg.

How do Carbidopa and Levodopa work?

People with Parkinson’s disease have lower amounts of dopamine in certain parts of their brains. This causes problems with the nerve messages that are sent from the brain to muscles. Dopamine is a substance called a neurotransmitter. It acts as a chemical messenger between nerve cells in the brain and nervous system.

Levodopa is converted into dopamine in the brain and this replaces the lost dopamine. This helps improve the nerve messages that are sent to the muscles. This also lessens some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  

Carbidopa stops Levodopa from being converted into dopamine in the rest of the body. It may cause unwanted side effects such as palpitations or nausea. Carbidopa could not pass into the brain and so doesn’t affect the conversion of Levodopa to dopamine in the brain.

How to use Carbidopa and Levodopa?

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to the treatment. You should take this medication exactly as it is prescribed. Do not take more or less or more often than it is given by your doctor. Your doctor may start giving you a lower dose and gradually increase it.

Carbidopa and Levodopa is a combined medication taken by mouth. Usually, this is taken 3 to 4 times a day. You may take each dose with or without a meal. Taking this drug with a meal may help avoid or lessen nausea. Swallow the tablet as a whole with a full glass of water. Do not break, crush, or chew it. Remember to take it at the same time and in the same way every day. For the best benefit, take it regularly. This drug may help control your symptoms, but it will not cure your condition. Even if you feel well, continue to take this prescription. Do not suddenly stop taking this without consulting your doctor. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. Never mind the missed dose and follow your regular dosing schedule if it’s almost time for the next dose. Do not double the dose to make up for a missed one.

What are the side effects of Carbidopa and Levodopa?

Common side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Muscle spasms
  • Abnormal dreams
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Back pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Shoulder and chest pain
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Urinary frequency

Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Mental or mood changes
  • Greatly increased eye blinking/twitching
  • Worsening of involuntarily movement or spasms
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Signs of infection (persistent sore throat or fever)
  • Vision changes
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Black/tarry stools

Get emergency medical help if you experience any of these signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Difficulty or trouble breathing
  • Hives or itching
  • Swelling of your lips, face, tongue, or throat

Warnings and Precautions

  • Carbidopa and Levodopa may cause a reddish discoloration of your urine and other body fluids (sweat or saliva).
  • This may make you feel dizzy or unsteady when getting up for lying down or sitting. Try to get up slowly to avoid dizziness.
  • This may also make you feel sleepy. If you feel sleepy or if you have suddenly fallen asleep without warning, you should not drive or operate machinery.
  • Take care when drinking alcohol or taking other drugs that causes drowsiness.
  • When your symptoms start to improve, make sure you resume your normal activities gradually. Try not to do too much too faster as you may have the risk of injury.
  • You should not share this to anyone even if they have the same symptoms as yours.
  • In case of overdose, call your doctor or medical assistance right away.
  • Keep this drug at room temperature far from heat, moisture, and reach of children.

This medication should not be taken by:

  • Children and adolescents under 18 years of age
  • People with a history of skin cancer
  • People with closed-angle glaucoma and psychotic illness
  • People who have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressant in the last 14 days
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

This should be taken with a lower dosage or extra monitoring by people with:

  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Lung disease such as asthma
  • History of convulsions or epilepsy, peptic ulcers, or depression
  • Raised pressure in the eye or open-angle glaucoma
  • Disorders involving hormone-producing glands
  • Softening of the bones due to lack of vitamin D in the body