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Parkinson’s Wearing Off Symptoms

The Symptom Spectrum Of Wearing

‘Wearing off’ – Paula’s story of living with Parkinson’s

In a satellite symposium held at the 2019 EAN Congress, the speakers discussed the spectrum of motor and non-motor fluctuations associated with the wearing-off of levodopa treatment for Parkinsons disease, and steps to prevent and manage these troublesome symptoms.

Impact of wearing-off on motor symptoms

As Parkinsons disease progresses over time from a stable treated disease to an advanced state there is a recurrence of motor symptoms during wearing-off including tremor, dystonia, muscle spasms, postural instability, slowness and gait difficulties. Wearing-off occurs frequently in about 80% of patients within 4 years from therapy initiation .1-3

Wearing-off during levodopa treatment may be detected even at the early stages of PD and is underestimated by routine neurological clinical evaluation. The number of symptoms, both motor and nonmotor, increases along with disease duration and unsurprisingly has a negative impact on patients quality of life.4

Patients with PD rate wearing-off as the greatest challenge with their levodopa therapy. Activities of daily living are rated as most bothersome by patients, because they are most limited during OFF time.5 Patients would prefer treatments that increase the amount of ON time, and for which they are able to predict the occurrence of OFF time to within 30 minutes.

Wearing-off is the greatest challenge of levodopa therapy, which occurs within 4 years of therapy initiation, and may be detected even earlier

Off Periods For Me Are Best Defined As Not Knowingwhat Is Going To Happen

Israel R., Living with Parkinsons Since 2007

Lynn H., Living with Parkinsons Since 2010

Michael B., Living with Parkinsons Since 2011

Brenda V., Living with Parkinsons Since 2012

Steven D., Living with Parkinsons Since 2005

Gary R., Living with Parkinsons Since 2008

Steven D., Living with Parkinsons Since 2005

Israel R., Living with Parkinsons Since 2007

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What Helps On/off Episodes

There are a few different steps you can consider taking to increase your symptom-free hours during the day.

Change the dosage or timing of your carbidopa/levodopa: Taking your medication at different times, or increasing your dose, may help reduce your off time.

Try a different medication: Your doctor may suggest another medication to add to your regimen, or a new carbidopa/levodopa option, to help reduce off episodes. You may also consider newer treatments for off time. For example, an inhaled levodopa powder for off episodes was approved by the FDA in 2018.

Adjust your diet: Because levodopa is a protein building block, it competes for absorption in the brain with other proteins. Its best not to eat a high-protein meal before taking your medication. For example, you may save fish, meat, and cheese for dinner and eat more carbs and vegetables during the day.

Consider a clinical trial: If youre interested, there are also several treatments in development for off time in Parkinsons disease.

Participating in clinical trials helps create the treatments of tomorrow. Start your search for a local Parkinsons disease clinical trial opportunity.

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Researchers have developed tools to assess wearing-off in Parkinsons patients. In particular, the wearing-off questionnaire has been used in studies as a screening tool to identify which patients experience the wearing-off phenomena.

The team conducted a cross-sectional study to assess the impact of motor and non-motor wearing-off on daily activities and quality of life in Parkinsons patients. All patients were evaluated using the movement disorders society unified Parkinsons disease rating scale , the WOQ-19, and the Parkinsons disease questionnaire-8 to assess quality of life.

Among the 271 patients included, 73.4% had wearing-off. Researchers then classified those patients according to the type: 63.8% had mixed wearing-off , 32.7% motor, and 3.5% non-motor.

As expected, the MDS-UPDRS part I total score which assesses non-motor aspects of daily living was higher in the non-motor wearing-off group. Interestingly, there were no differences in MDS-UPDRS part I score between patients in the mixed wearing-off group and those who did not experience wearing off.

This finding suggests that patients with motor wearing-off may have a lower overall burden of non-motor symptoms, while patients with mixed or no wearing-off have similar burdens, researchers said. Conversely, patients with non-motor fluctuations also have a higher burden of non-motor symptoms.

People With Pd May Not:

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  • Discuss the timing of their motor symptoms or realize that motor symptoms occur during OFF periods
  • Be aware that non-motor symptoms could be linked to OFF periods
  • Be aware that there may be variations during the day as symptoms may improve and then re-emerge

In addition, patients may try to be at their best for office visits.

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What Are On And Off Periods With Parkinsons Meds

While you might expect that taking a medication on a consistent schedule would guarantee your symptoms would be kept at bay, thats unfortunately not always the case with Parkinsons diseaseand thats the core of the on-off phenomenon, says Ling Pan, M.D., clinical assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery at NYU Langone Health in New York, NY.

The on period is when the medication is doing its job to prevent tremors and other motor symptoms, explains Dr. Hui. Patients will often feel better fairly soon after taking their doseeven within half an hour, she says. Its almost like a light switch is being switched on, and they can move a lot easier.

That said, Dr. Hui explains, the effect can wear off over several hoursand thats when you hit that off period. When you first start taking the drug, though, its normal to experience a honeymoon period, she says. It may work all day, and you feel great, but overtime as the disease progresses, the medication doesnt less as long, and off-time creeps in slowly and then becomes more noticeable and more regular overtime. Typically, thats when folks with Parkinsons start to cycle between those on and off periods.

What Is Wearing Off

Wearing Off is a term used to describe when a person with Parkinsons disease feels that the benefit of their levodopa medication has begun to fade away, and do not last until the next dose of medication.

The Wearing Off phenomenon in PD is associated with long-term use of levodopa containing medicines .

Wearing Off most likely occurs due to the disease progression and the loss of the dopamine- producing cells in the brain, which results in the feeling that the effects of the levodopa medication is gradually fading away but this can be managed effectively once it is identied.

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Parkinsons Disease Symptoms Everyone Should Know

Parkinsons disease symptoms can include tremor and trouble with movement, along with emotional and cognitive changes.

Parkinsons disease symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. Some people may have range of motor symptoms, like tremor, stiffness, and slow movements. Others may also experience the non-motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease, such as anxiety, cognitive changes, and loss of smell.

It has to do with a chemical messenger known as dopamine, which plays a role in the brains ability to control movement, coordination, and emotional responses. In Parkinsons disease, the brain cells that produce dopamine either stop doing their job or they die out, resulting in both motor and non-motor symptoms. Its not always easy to tell if someone you care about has Parkinsons disease. Lets take a closer look at the symptoms of the disease and signs that someone should make an appointment with their doctor.

Characteristics Of The Clinicians

‘Wearing Off’ – Why we need better Parkinson’s drugs

Fifty-one clinicians participated in this study. Among them, 20 clinicians worked in tertiary care hospitals and 31 clinicians worked in secondary care hospitals. Most of the clinicians majored in neurology , and four clinicians majored in traditional Chinese medicine. For the clinicians, the mean years in practice in the field of PD was 9.4 ± 7.8 and the mean number of PD patients that they served per week was 14.7 ± 14.0.

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Can An Off Episode Be Prevented

Eventually, most people with PD develop OFF episodes. Some people develop OFF episodes sooner than others.

Researchers have found evidence that taking high doses of levodopa may increase your risk of OFF episodes. It may cause greater fluctuations in your dopamine levels.

Its important for your doctor to prescribe the lowest dose of levodopa necessary to manage your symptoms. This may help limit fluctuations in dopamine and reduce your risk of OFF episodes.

If you think you might be experiencing OFF episodes, let your doctor know. They may adjust your prescribed dose or formulation of levodopa/carbidopa. They may also prescribe other treatments to manage OFF episodes.

If youre experiencing OFF episodes, your doctor may recommend one or more changes to your treatment plan.

They may:

In some cases, your doctor may recommend deep brain stimulation . In this procedure, a surgeon implants electrodes in the brain and a small internal pulse generator in the chest or abdomen. The internal pulse generator sends electrical signals to the brain to help control symptoms of DB.

Each treatment option carries a different risk of side effects. Ask your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of different treatment approaches.

What Is The Wearing Off Symptoms For Parkinsons Disease

Wearing off symptoms characteristically occur when the impact of levodopa medication come down / diminish before the time of the next dosage. The symptoms of Parkinsons disease is expected to return or even worsen before the next dosage of levodopa is scheduled, and then again improve after the patient is given the next dose. When the medication works and its effects can be seen, it is said the patient is on during that time, and again the when the effect of the medication worn out, it is said that the patient is in off phase. Thus, cycle is also called the on-off episode of Parkinsons disease.

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Comparison Between Clinician Assessments And Patient Self

CWOQ-9 corresponded with clinician identification of WO in 734 of 763 patients clinicians disagreed with the CWOQ-9 considering the presence of WO in 337 of 1,071 cases. Considering the clinician identification as a gold standard, the sensitivity of CWOQ-9 was 96.2% , the specificity of CWOQ-9 was 45.8% . We further compared the patients of clinician identification and CWOQ-9 to the patients of clinicians identification and CWOQ-9 . Results showed that patients of clinician identification and CWOQ-9 were characterized by a younger age at onset , a longer disease duration , a higher H& Y staging , a higher CWOQ-9 score, and higher frequencies in most of the motor and non-motor symptoms, compared with patients of clinician identification and CWOQ-9 .

Table 3. Comparison of the characteristics between WO patients of different assessment methods.

What Are The Symptoms Of Wearing Off


Wearing off is very individual. In some people, motor symptoms such as tremor may be the first sign, whilst for others it might be stiffness and difficulty initiating movement. But wearing off symptoms may not be related to movement at all and may be experienced in the form of increased anxiety, fatigue, a change in mood, difficulty thinking, restlessness and sweating .

If you notice a change in your usual symptom pattern, you should discuss this with your doctor because you may be experiencing wearing off. Your doctor will then be able to adjust your medication regime to provide better symptom control, possibly by reducing the interval between the levodopa doses and increasing the number of daily doses.

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Q What Should Someone With Parkinsons Do At When They Are Experiencing An Off Period

A. An off period can feel unpleasant and make some people anxious, especially if they arent expecting it. If this happens it can be helpful to take deep breaths and do something relaxing until your medication starts to work. Generally, an off period will improve once you take your next dose.

Ideally, it is better to delay wearing off and reduce how much it happens with the best treatment regime for you. As part of this, your specialist will prescribe you a low dose of levodopa for as long as possible to avoid the peaks and troughs of levodopa stimulation. If you experience wearing off regularly then this may mean that your medication regime needs adjusting. For example, you could take medication more frequently or take other drugs such as Madopar dispersible which works faster than capsules or tablets.

Making The Most Of On Time

If you start to experience your medication wearing off, its important that your drug regime is managed so you can make the most of your on time.

This becomes more complicated if you also begin to have involuntary movements. You might have to decide on a compromise between more on time with involuntary movements, or more off time with other Parkinsons symptoms.

Many people tend to prefer more on time, even with the dyskinesia, but everyone is different and you should discuss your options with your specialist or Parkinsons nurse.

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How Is Wearing Off Identied

Wearing Off can be identified by both the person with Parkinsons and a Doctor or PDNS following a clinical examination and a discussion of the history of your symptoms.

Sometimes the diagnosis of Wearing Off can initially be missed as they may be infrequent and predominately non-motor, for example a feeling of anxiety or sweating. There are many other non- motor Wearing Off symptoms including speech problems, reduced dexterity, cloudy mind, pain, abdominal discomfort, temperature changes, and numbness. Wearing Off motor symptoms include re-emergence or worsening of tremor, slowness, stiffness, problems with balance, and difficulty arising from a chair.

Also, as all the symptoms of PD and Wearing Off are individual to everyone, so it is important that you talk through your symptoms with your doctor or PDNS.

It may be beneficial to use a Wearing Off diary, which allows you to record your PD symptoms and medications over a number of days to give the Doctor an overview of how you are doing. These are available online at or from the national ofce 1800 359 359.

How To Know If The Patient Is Having Wearing Off Symptoms

Parkinson’s wearing-off difficulties and medication – Jill

In recent times, doctors and Parkinsons disease specialists have developed a question card in order to help patient recognize if he is experiencing wearing off symptoms. Such a card asks whether the patient experience a certain kind of sign during the day and if such a symptom is seen to improve after taking the next dosage of medicine. If it is seen that one or more such symptoms develop during any given day and is seen to improve after taking the medicine as prescribed it may be so that the patient is having wearing off symptoms.

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What Does Parkinson’s Dyskinesia Look Like

Dyskinesia can involve one body part, such as an arm or leg, or the entire body. It can look like fidgeting, writhing, wriggling, head bobbing or body swaying. Dyskinesia tends to occur most often during times when other Parkinson’s symptoms, such as tremor, slowness and stiffness, are well controlled.

Medications Management Of Motor Fluctuations

Usually, freezing episodes decrease after taking medication. Different medications are available to treat off episodes, including:

Levodopa: Changing how you take Levodopa can impact off episodes.

Dopamine Agonists: Stimulating the parts of the brain that are influenced by dopamine, the brain is tricked into thinking it is receiving the dopamine it needs.

  • Apomorphine Hydrochloride Injection , Apomorphine hydrochloride

Amantadine: Used in early and advanced PD to help tremor. It can also be useful in reducing dyskinesias that occur with dopamine medication.

  • Amantadine ER capsules Amantadine ER tablets

Adenosine A2a antagonists: Can reduce off time by 30-60 minutes per day without worsening dyskinesia. However, dyskinesia can still be a side effect.

COMT Inhibitors: This class of PD medications has no direct effect on PD symptoms, but prolongs the effect of levodopa by blocking its metabolism.

  • Carbidopa/levodopa/entacapone tablets

MAO-B Inhibitors: By blocking the MAO-B enzyme, which breaks down dopamine, this makes more dopamine available to the brain.

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What Are Off Episodes

Firstly, its important to understand what OFF episodes are and why they happen. OFF episodes are defined as a temporary returning of Parkinsonian symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, loss of postural reflexes and memory problems, while taking levodopa medication. OFF episodes affect the majority of people with PD, and it can occur at any stage of the illness.

Some patients experience OFF episodes when they first wake in the morning known as akinesia while others notice symptoms returning at the end of a dose when the drug starts to wear off. For some, the OFF episodes are random and severe. Uncontrolled Parkinsons symptoms can significantly impact your quality of life, which is why scientists are committed to finding new and improved treatment options.

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How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated

Parkinson Disease Symptoms Infographic Stock Vector

There is no cure for Parkinsons disease. However, medications and other treatments can help relieve some of your symptoms. Exercise can help your Parkinsons symptoms significantly. In addition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy can help with walking and balance problems, eating and swallowing challenges and speech problems. Surgery is an option for some patients.

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Presynaptic Mechanisms In Wearing

The finding that motor improvement following acute intravenous levodopa challenge lasts longer in de novo and stable patients than in those who are already suffering motor fluctuations was key to the development of the storage hypothesis, which implies that loss of presynaptic dopaminergic terminals reduces the capacity of the striatum to store dopamine and buffer the oscillations in plasma levodopa levels . Certainly, the pharmacokinetics of levodopa-dopamine in the brain is drastically changed after dopaminergic denervation of the striatum. In the rat with a 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of the nigrostriatal pathway, peak striatal dopamine levels and the area under the curve for synaptic dopamine availability are significantly lower in animals with larger lesions , which correlates with a shorter duration motor response . In patients, the availability of dopamine in the synapse has been measured by PET using the D-2 receptor antagonist raclopride as the radioligand. Raclopride was administered before and after levodopa intake in patients with and without motor fluctuations, with the result that patients with motor fluctuations demonstrated a greater decrease in raclopride binding than stable patients. Because raclopride competes with dopamine for binding to D2 receptors, reduced raclopride uptake is an index of higher synaptic dopamine levels and, therefore, reduced numbers of dopaminergic terminals .

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