The severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms may fluctuate over time. This can be due to medication, disease duration, and severity.

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease experience motor and nonmotor symptoms. Motor symptoms affect body movements, such as tremors, balance, and coordination. In contrast, nonmotor symptoms include depression and sleeping problems.

The severity of Parkinson’s symptoms varies between individuals, and symptoms may fluctuate in severity throughout this disease.

This article examines how symptoms fluctuate, why this happens, and more. Keep reading to learn about how Parkinson’s symptoms come and go.

An older person floating in a swimming pool using floats. Parkinson's symptoms can fluctuate depending on the time of day and medication.Share on Pinterest
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People with Parkinson’s disease may notice that their motor symptoms fluctuate or come and go. This is often the case if individuals take medication to manage their condition.

Parkinson’s symptoms can become less severe in response to certain medications. However, as the effect of these medications wears off, symptoms may become more noticeable and can fluctuate over weeks or within a single day.

Nonmotor symptoms can also fluctuate. For example, people with Parkinson’s disease may experience mood changes while taking medication. They may also feel anxious when the effects of their medication begin to wear off and symptoms return.

Certain medications can also lead to uncontrollable muscle movements, known as dyskinesia. This can occur while taking the Parkinson’s medication levodopa with another drug called carbidopa. A person can take a combination of these medications under the brand name Sinemet.

The severity of dyskinesia differs depending on the individual. Some people may experience mild dyskinesia, while more severe dyskinesia may interfere with a person’s everyday activities.

The causes of Parkinson’s symptom fluctuation depend on the individual and their treatment program.

Parkinson’s disease decreases the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that is important for controlling body movements. When the levels of dopamine decrease, this can lead to the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Levodopa is a medication that can help replace dopamine in the brain. Though taking it may reduce Parkinson’s symptoms, as the drug begins to wear off, those symptoms can return.

According to a 2021 review, between 40% and 50% of people taking levodopa for Parkinson’s disease will develop dyskinesias and motor fluctuations within 5 years. This increases to between 70% and 80% after 10 years of taking this medication.

Another recent study found that 70% of participants experiencing these fluctuations received a Parkinson’s diagnosis before they were 54 years old. The early onset of the condition, which can lead to a person living with the condition for longer, may lead to greater fluctuations over time.

Individuals with moderate or severe Parkinson’s disease may also experience fluctuation of nonmotor symptoms. Most people with nonmotor symptom fluctuation also have motor symptoms that come and go.

Nonmotor symptoms tend to increase as the disease progresses. These may include mental health conditions or sleep disturbances.

Learn more about the stages of Parkinson’s disease.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can look different for everyone. Some of the most common motor symptoms may include:

These symptoms may be mild in the early stages of the disease. Over time, they can make it hard to walk or complete routine activities.

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease may also experience nonmotor symptoms. These include:

Learn more about the early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Individuals who experience new or worsening Parkinson’s symptoms should visit a doctor. A healthcare professional can provide an evaluation and recommend appropriate treatment for each case.

Receiving a timely diagnosis and beginning treatment can improve the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. A person with Parkinson’s symptoms should consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss their treatment options and receive prompt healthcare.

Learn more about treatment options for Parkinson’s disease.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Parkinson’s disease and symptom fluctuation.

Can Parkinson’s symptoms stay mild?

Not all people with Parkinson’s disease will experience severe symptoms. Certain individuals respond to treatment and develop only mild symptoms.

Although there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, it is possible to live a full and active life with this condition.

Can Parkinson’s disease disappear?

In most cases, people with Parkinson’s disease will need long-term treatment to manage their symptoms.

However, some studies have identified cases where Parkinson’s disease symptoms disappear. In one study, a 78-year-old man experienced a remission of all symptoms 16 years after his diagnosis.

Although full remission is very rare, it can happen in some cases. Future studies may reveal more about why this happens.

Parkinson’s disease causes both motor and nonmotor symptoms, and their severity can fluctuate over time.

Certain medications for Parkinson’s disease can cause symptoms to fluctuate. Symptoms may also worsen gradually as the disease progresses.

Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatments can help manage symptoms. Timely diagnosis and effective treatment can both maximize the quality of life for people living with this disease.