Anticholinergics - Parkinson's drugs
Anticholinergics are a type of drug, less commonly prescribed
now, used to treat the symptoms of
Anticholinergics may be useful in the early stages of Parkinson's when symptoms are mild.
They tend to improve tremor more than slowness and stiffness.
They block the action of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger
that helps to send messages from your nerves to your muscles.
There are branded and unbranded anticholinergics available.
- orphenadrine (Biorphen, Disipal, unbranded form)
- procyclidine (Arpicolin, Kemadrin, unbranded form)
- trihexyphenidyl (Broflex, unbranded form)
Anticholinergics may be useful in the early stages of Parkinson's when symptoms are mild. They tend to
improve tremor more than slowness and stiffness.
They can be prescribed alone in the early stages, before
levodopa is necessary, although they can
be used in conjunction with levodopa or a glutamate antagonist too.
Anticholinergics can be used to reduce excess saliva.
They can also reduce bladder contractions that can cause a
strong, frequent urge to urinate.
Side effects and problems of anticholinergics
Another reason these drugs are not a first choice for treating
Parkinson's are their side effects. Some people may experience
confusion, a dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision when taking
Anticholinergics may interfere with levodopa absorption in the
small bowel, which reduces the effectiveness of Madopar or Sinemet.
Anticholinergics are not usually prescribed to older people with
Parkinson's because there is an increased risk of memory loss and,
in men, problems urinating.
More information about anticholinergics
Read our Drug treatments for Parkinson's
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