Alzheimer’s Treatment What Do We Know

Learn about the two classes of prescription drugs used in the treatment of Alzheimer's and the potential benefits of Vitamin E supplements. Understand the potential side effects and importance of discussing medication safety with your pharmacist.

Alzheimer’s Treatment What Do We Know

Alzheimer’s treatment just treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s; there are no cures for this disease.

Current drugs cannot reverse the loss of brain cells, but they may help to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

There are two classes of prescriptions drugs that are used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
  • N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists

Cholinesterase inhibitors These drugs are used to break down a chemical messenger in the brain that helps with memory and other thinking skills. The drug tries to keep the level of the messenger level high, even though that the cells that produce the messenger are dying.

Some individuals, in the mild or moderate stages of Alzheimer’s, who take one of these drugs, may show a small improvement in cognitive symptoms.

The most common of these drugs are:

  • donepezil (Aricept)
  • rivastigmine (Exelon)
  • galantamine (Razadyne)

As a rule, these drugs are started at a low level and increased over time. This is to be able to observe for possible side effects that may occur.

The most side effects are: headache, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea.

If any of these side effects occur, please contact your health care provider.

CAUTION- Never change the dose or stop a medication without first discussing it with your doctor.

Some drugs are best taken on an empty stomach, some are taken with food. There are also some foods that should be avoided when taking some drugs. It is also important to know if the medications you are taking will interact with any herbs or supplements you are taking. Medication safety is important.

Speak to your pharmacist about Alzheimer’s treatment

Please discuss with your pharmacist about your medications and other supplements.

Vitamin E supplements

Although Vitamin E is not a prescription drug, it is a supplement that is often prescribed in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin E may help brain cells defend against free radicals. Free radicals are a kind of oxygen that can damage cells.

Vitamin E is called an anti oxidant because it helps protect cells against the oxygen damage.

Other drug treatments for Alzheimer’s disease treat symptoms that an individual may exhibit as the disease progresses.

These symptoms include:

  • inability to sleep
  • wandering
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • paranoia
  • delusions
  • physical acting out