Amantadine, the active ingredient in Symmetrel, is both an antiviral drug and an antiparkinsonism agent that is prescribed for two very different uses. Symmetrel may be prescribed to prevent type A influenza, which is often responsible for large flu epidemics. The antidyskinetic properties of Amantadine have been found helpful in improving muscle control and reducing stiffness associated with mild symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). This is not a cure for the flu or Parkinson’s disease.
When taken as directed, Symmetrel or generic Amantadine increases the activity of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, a natural body chemical that is involved in transmitting messages between nerve cells. It also reduces the activity of acetylcholine to help restore the balance of acetylcholine and dopamine which can decrease some of the symptoms of PD. It is believed that Symmetrel also affects a third neurotransmitter called glutamate to reduce Parkinson’s symptoms. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
For action against influenza A, Symmetrel works by disabling the virus from being able to multiply. This drug is not a vaccine against the flu, and will not work for influenza B or C. Type A influenza is the more serious flu and can cause widespread outbreaks so you should ask your doctor about a yearly flu shot to guard against its symptoms.
Symmetrel is usually prescribed for people who could become very ill if they get the flu. This might include people who have a medical condition such as diabetes or a lung disease. Symmetrel is only used to prevent Type A influenza. It cannot prevent or treat colds, other types of flu not caused by Type A virus, or other viral infections.
Parkinson's disease is a slowly progressing disease of the nervous system that causes people to lose control over their muscles. It is believed to be caused by a disturbance in the balance of two substances, dopamine and acetylcholine, that the brain uses to send signals to other parts of the body. Some of the main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include slowed movements, tremors, shaking and trembling, rigid muscles, speech changes, and impaired balance.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast feeding as Symmetrel could be harmful . Be sure to provide your doctor with a complete list of OTC/Rx drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements that you are taking as Symmetrel may react with other medications.
Some people who have used this medicine experienced unusual changes in their behavior. These are impulse control disorders that can include behaviors such as addictive gambling, excessive eating or spending, an abnormally high sex drive or an increase in sexual thoughts or feelings.
Symmetrel may provide relief from Parkinson’s symptoms for a limited period of time and then lose its effectiveness. Consult with your doctor if this happens, as the effectiveness of the medication may be restored if it is discontinued for a period of time and restarted at a later date.