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Side Effects of Carbidopa-Levodopa

When beginning treatment, most people have no problems with carbidopa-levodopa. Side effects tend to occur, however, over time and can range from bothersome to intolerable. Common side effects include nausea, muscle cramps, and fatigue. You should contact your healthcare provider right away if you develop more serious side effects of carbidopa-levodopa, such as internal bleeding, psychiatric problems, or seizures.

An Introduction to Side Effects of Carbidopa-Levodopa

As with any medicine, side effects are possible with carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet®). However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience side effects. Many people tolerate it relatively well, at least at first. If side effects do occur, they are often minor and either require no treatment or are easily treated by you or your healthcare provider. However, many people begin to experience significant and sometimes intolerable side effects of carbidopa-levodopa after several years of use.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with carbidopa-levodopa. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of carbidopa-levodopa side effects with you.)

Serious Side Effects of Carbidopa-Levodopa

Some side effects of carbidopa-levodopa are potentially serious and should be reported immediately to your healthcare provider. Although most of these serious side effects are rare, a few may be common. Serious side effects include but are not limited to:
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension) or high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Fainting
  • Bleeding in the digestive tract
  • Intestinal ulcers (known as duodenal ulcers)
  • Intense, unusual urges, such as urges to gamble or engage in risky sexual activity
  • Low white blood cell, red blood cell, or blood platelet counts 
  • Psychiatric problems, such as:
    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Paranoia
    • Agitation
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Seizures
  • A heart attack
  • Malignant melanoma (a type of skin cancer)
  • A painful penile erection that does not go away (known as priapism)
  • Falling or balance problems
  • Symptoms of neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), which may occur if carbidopa-levodopa is stopped too abruptly, such as:
    • A high fever
    • Stiff muscles
    • Confusion
    • Irregular pulse or blood pressure
    • A fast heart rate (tachycardia)
    • Sweating
    • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • An unexplained rash
    • Hives
    • Itching
    • Swelling of the mouth or throat
    • Wheezing
    • Difficulty breathing.
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Information on Carbidopa-Levodopa

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