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Levodopa

Brand names: Dopar, Larodopa, Inbrija

What is levodopa used for?

  • Levodopa is used to treat "off" episodes (when a dose wears off) in people with Parkinson's disease.

Before taking levodopa, tell your doctor:

  • If you are allergic to levodopa; any part of this medicine; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Asthma or other breathing problems like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
  • If you have taken certain drugs used for low mood (depression) like isocarboxazid, phenelzine, or tranylcypromine in the last 14 days. Taking levodopa within 14 days of those drugs can cause very bad high blood pressure.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with levodopa.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take levodopa with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take levodopa?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take levodopa. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how levodopa affects you.
  • To lower the chance of feeling dizzy or passing out, rise slowly if you have been sitting or lying down. Be careful going up and down stairs.
  • This medicine may affect certain lab tests. Tell all of your health care providers and lab workers that you take levodopa.
  • Talk with your doctor before you drink alcohol or use other drugs and natural products that slow your actions.
  • Some products may cause a dark red, brown, or black color to appear in your saliva, urine, or sweat. This is not harmful but may discolor your clothes.
  • Some people have fallen asleep during activities like driving, eating, or talking. Some people did not feel sleepy and felt alert right before falling asleep. This has happened up to 1 year after levodopa was started. If you fall asleep during activities, do not drive or do other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert while you take levodopa. Call your doctor right away if this happens or you feel very sleepy.
  • Do not stop taking levodopa all of a sudden or lower your dose without talking to your doctor. Side effects may happen.
  • If you are 65 or older, use levodopa with care. You could have more side effects.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan on getting pregnant, or are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks to you and the baby.

How is levodopa best taken?

Use levodopa as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • Use at the first signs you feel your Parkinson's signs start to come back.
  • Only use the device that comes with levodopa. Do not use any other devices.
  • Wash your hands before use.
  • Be sure your hands are dry before you touch levodopa.
  • Take the capsule out of the foil right before use.
  • Do not swallow capsule. The contents of the capsule will be breathed into the lungs.
  • Do not open the capsules.
  • Do not use capsules that are crushed, damaged, or wet.
  • Put the cap back on after you are done using your dose.
  • Use new inhaler with each refill.
  • If you take an iron product or a multivitamin that has iron, ask your doctor or pharmacist how to take it with levodopa. Iron may lower how well your body is able to absorb levodopa.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • This medicine is used on an as needed basis. Do not use more often than told by the doctor.

What are the side effects of levodopa that I need to call my doctor about immediately?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Trouble breathing that is new or worse.
  • Change in the way you act.
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there).
  • Feeling confused.
  • Feeling agitated.
  • Restlessness.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Strange or odd dreams.
  • Strong urges that are hard to control (such as eating, gambling, sex, or spending money).
  • Trouble controlling body movements that is new or worse.
  • Dizziness or passing out.
  • Very upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Sweating a lot.
  • Change in eyesight.
  • Eye pain.

What are some other side effects of levodopa?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Cough.
  • Change in color of sputum.
  • Signs of a common cold.
  • Upset stomach.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If overdose is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out levodopa?

  • Store at room temperature in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Store capsules in the original container. Use right after opening.
  • Do not store capsules in the inhaler.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

Consumer information use and disclaimer

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about levodopa, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take levodopa or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to levodopa. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Source: Wolters Kluwer Health. Last updated June 19, 2020.