Friday, April 16, 2021

Drugs that Induce Dementia - Are Your Meds Causing You to Lose Your Mind?

Most cases of dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's dementia, vascular dementia and others, are caused by various health problems which affect the brain.  One cause of dementia symptoms which is frequently overlooked could be the medications you are taking.  If you begin to think you are "losing you mind," becoming forgetful or confused, and having difficulty dealing with the complexities of life, you should immediately ask your doctor to review your medications.

Anticholinergic Medications are a Serious Risk

Millions of people take anticholinergic medications for a variety of health problems.  However, researchers have discovered that people over the age of 55 who have taken them for three or more years have a 50 percent greater chance of developing dementia.*  That is a high price to pay for what could otherwise be a helpful medication.

These drugs treat a wide variety of health problems including COPD, bladder conditions, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders and the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

When taken for a short period of time, they can cause confusion and memory loss.  When used for a longer time, many of these drugs seem to increase your risk of developing more serious symptoms of dementia, which may or may not be reversible when the drug is discontinued.

According to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine* researchers found that there were "increased risks of dementia for anticholinergic drugs overall and specifically for the anticholinergic antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, anti-parkinsons drugs, bladder drugs and epilepsy drugs after accounting for other risk factors for dementia.  No increased risks were found for the other types of anticholinergic drug studied such as antihistamines (like Benadryl) and gastrointestinal drugs."

The researchers determined that about 10 percent of dementia cases could be attributed to these drugs.  


List of Anticholinergic Medications You May Want Your Doctor to Review

Common anticholinergic drugs which may be risky for older people include antihistamines, sleeping pills, tricyclic antidepressants, and the drugs which you may be prescribed to treat an overactive bladder. Some of these drugs may be prescribed by your doctor.  Others are available over-the-counter and you may be administering them to yourself, without your doctor's knowledge.  This is especially risky if, for example, you are using over-the-counter Benadryl in combination with one of the other drugs.  The Benadryl, by itself, may not be a problem when taken as an antihistamine for a short period of time.  However, when taken daily for years and combined with one or more of the other drugs, it could make your dementia symptoms worse.

Examples of these drugs are:

Benadryl
Desyrel (trazodone)
Dimetapp
Ditropan (oxybutynin)

Enablex (darifenacin)
Paxil (paroxetine)
Remeron (mirtazapine)
Sinequan (doxepin)

Toviaz (fesoterodine)
Urispas (flavoxate)

What to do if You are Taking one of These Drugs

If you have been taking these drugs, pay attention to your thinking and mental clarity. Ask your family if they have noticed any differences.  You will also want to discuss your dosage and the length of time you have been on the drugs with your doctor. Ask if there are alternatives which might treat your condition just as well, or if you can take a lower dosage for a shorter period of time.

In addition, be aware if a change in any medication causes you to feel as if your thinking is "foggier" or you have reduced mental clarity.  Although the anticholinergic drugs seem to be the ones most commonly associated with bringing on dementia-like symptoms, you should speak to your physician if any drug makes you feel as if you are having trouble functioning properly. 

Take Care of Your Brain

There are a wealth of other articles on this blog to help you take care of your brain and reduce your risk of dementia.  You can find them by clicking on Medical Concerns here, or by using the tab or pull-down menu at the top of the page.  Learn how lifestyle changes such as exercise, a healthy diet, reduced alcohol use and eliminating tobacco can also reduce your dementia risk. 

In addition, you may want to check out  "The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook: Recipes and Lifestyle Guidelines to Help Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia."  (Ad)

It is an excellent book and will help you make the best lifestyle choices to protect your brain.
 
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*https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-06-commonly-drugs-dementia.html

2 comments:

  1. It seems too common that taking a med for one problem can lead to another problem. Thanks for the recommended reading and tips.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for pointing out the dangers of so many common drugs!

    ReplyDelete

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