Amantadine for Parkinson's disease

  • Amantadine is for Parkinson's disease.
  • As your body movements become easier, be careful not to overdo physical activities.
  • It may cause drowsiness. Make sure your reactions are normal before you drive or use tools or machines.

About amantadine

Type of medicine Dopamine agonist
Used for Relief of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease
Also called Symmetrel®
Available as Capsules and oral liquid (syrup)

Amantadine is used to treat Parkinson's disease although other treatments are often preferred. The exact cause of Parkinson's disease is still unknown, but it results in there being less of a chemical called dopamine in the brain. This lack of dopamine causes symptoms such as shaking, muscle stiffness, and slow movement.

Amantadine works by increasing the amount of dopamine in your brain, which helps to ease these symptoms. It is usually prescribed alongside other medicines for Parkinson's disease.

Although this leaflet is about amantadine when it is used in Parkinson's disease, it may also be prescribed for certain types of nerve pain. If you have been given amantadine for this reason, then you should ask your doctor if you have any questions about your treatment.

Before taking amantadine

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking amantadine it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have heart, liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have epilepsy.
  • If you have glaucoma (increased pressure in your eyes).
  • If you have ever had a stomach ulcer.
  • If you have a mental health problem such as schizophrenia, confusion or dementia.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.

How to take amantadine

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of amantadine you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
  • Take amantadine exactly as your doctor has told you. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how much to take and when to take it. Your dose will also be on the label of the pack.
  • When starting your treatment, your doctor may give you a small dose and then gradually increase the dose. This allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition and avoids any unwanted symptoms.
  • If you are taking amantadine capsules, swallow them whole with a drink of water. Do not chew, or open the capsules.
  • Try to take your doses of amantadine at the same time(s) each day, as this will help you to avoid missing doses.
  • If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor so your progress can be checked.
  • As your condition improves and your body movements become easier, be careful not to overdo physical activities. Physical activities must be increased gradually to allow your body to adjust to changing balance and co-ordination. This is especially important if you are elderly or if your movements have been restricted.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about drinking while you are on amantadine. Alcohol may increase feelings of drowsiness and may not be recommended for you.
  • Do not stop taking amantadine unless your doctor tells you to do so. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems and your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with amantadine.

Can amantadine cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common amantadine side-effects - these affect around 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Loss of appetite, feeling sick, constipation Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water
Blurred vision, feeling dizzy, light-headed, or tired If any of these happen, do not drive or use tools or machines. Do not drink alcohol
Dry mouth Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Feeling anxious, changes in your mood, difficulties sleeping, lack of concentration, slurred speech, swollen ankles, purple skin blotches, a fast heartbeat, increased sweating If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your pharmacist or doctor.

How to store amantadine

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.