Nervous System Home > What Is Carbidopa-Levodopa Used For?

Carbidopa-levodopa is used for treating Parkinson's disease and parkinsonism caused by encephalitis, carbon monoxide poisoning, or manganese poisoning. However, the drug may also be used "off-label" to treat restless legs syndrome. This prescription medication works by providing a means for the body to produce more dopamine. Low levels of dopamine are thought to be responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson's.

What Is Carbidopa-Levodopa Used For? -- An Overview

Carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet®) is a prescription medication used to treat Parkinson's disease. In addition, carbidopa-levodopa is approved to treat Parkinson-like symptoms due to carbon monoxide poisoning, manganese poisoning, or encephalitis (inflammation or infection of the brain).
 
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that results from the loss of neurons in a region of the brain that controls movement. This creates a shortage of the brain-signaling chemical (neurotransmitter) known as dopamine, causing movement problems characteristic of Parkinson's disease. The exact cause of Parkinson's is not currently known.
 
Although early symptoms of Parkinson's disease may be subtle, people will eventually develop a characteristic tremor (trembling or shaking) of a limb, especially when the body is at rest. As the disease progresses, symptoms may worsen and new ones may appear.
 
Depending on the severity of a person's symptoms, Parkinson's disease treatment can include:
 
Although carbidopa-levodopa is an effective Parkinson's medication, its benefits are often limited to about five years of use, at which time the drug may start to cause intolerable side effects and may begin to lose its effectiveness. It is not currently known why this might occur; some people think it is simply a manifestation of the worsening of the disease that normally happens over time.
 
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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