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Parkinson's Disease

How to stop Weight Loss Due to Parkinson's

12/03/1998

Question:

I have a dear friend who has Parkinson's Disease. She is losing weight because of the constant tremors in her arm and hand. How can she gain weight when energy is being used up by the constant movement of her muscles? Thank you.

Answer:

First of all, it is important to ensure that there are no other causes of weight loss such as occult cancer or malabsorption syndrome. Patients should be evaluated by their primary care physicians in this regard. Once these causes are ruled out it is important to address the issue of mild to moderate depression which is very common in PD and can take the form of a loss of appetite. Consulting a nutritionist is certainly appropriate as some simple measures like taking protein supplements such as Ensure can backfire due to reduced absorption of Sinemet. Appropriate management of the tremor or other involuntary movements is essential. It is interesting that one of the side effects of pallidotomy, a neurosurgical surgery for PD, is weight gain.

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Response by:

Arif Dalvi, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati