New studies have confirmed that dementia is highly related to commonly used medicine, mostly those which are sold over-the-counter without a prescription for apparently simple issues like insomnia or hay-fever. These specific medication has an “anticholinergic” effect, but this shouldn’t be a concern. The results of the study have been based on the fact that the drugs were used constantly and in high dosage (every day for at least three years) at elderly people; only in these cases, dementia was mentioned.
Anticholinergic-type drugs have the mission of blocking a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine and the administration of it can cause side-effects, like the majority of medications. In this case, the warnings are: memory problems, dry mouth, reduced attention span, but also there is a high risk of developing dementia. The study has been made on 3.434 people over 65 years old who clearly didn’t show any signs of dementia before the study has started.
Other drugs that are currently verified in this study are tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines (usually used for treating allergies) and antimuscarinics (best in urinary incontinence treatments). These cases absolutely involve drugs that are given to patients on prescription, but more than 50 percent of them could be bought over the counter, even if the law didn’t state the same.
The results are terrifying: out of 3.434 people, 797 of them developed dementia. As a result, scientists wanted to find out what is the dosage that could lead to such outcomes. The maximum limit is: 10 mg/day of doxepin (antidepressant), four mg/day of diphenhydramine (a sleep aid), or five mg/day of oxybutynin (a urinary incontinence drug). All these, combined with a constancy of three years of using them day by day, will surely bring a person to dementia.
Dr Doug Brown, from the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society, said:
“There have been concerns that regular use by older people of certain medications with anticholinergic effects, such as sleep aids and hay-fever treatments, can increase the risk of dementia in certain circumstances, which this study supports. However, it is still unclear whether this is the case and if so, whether the effects seen are a result of long-term use or several episodes of short-term use.”
He also mentions that a more robust research is needed in order to understand the possible dangers that can intervene and what are the drugs that can have this effect on patients, more than others would.
Image Source: The Voice for Injured and Abused Elders