Over the Counter Medications Causing Dementia? Are You Increasing Your Risk?

According to a recent study by the Group Health Research Institute, long-term use of anticholinergic drugs may increase the risk of developing dementia. Learn about the medications that may be in your medicine cabinet and how to lower your risk. Consult with your primary care provider for guidance.

Over the Counter Medications Causing Dementia? Are You Increasing Your Risk?
Medications that cause dementia like symptoms

Medications causing dementia may be as close as your medicine cabinet.

Nothing puts fear in a person more than the thought they may develop dementia. Alzheimer’s disease makes up 70% of the dementia’s cases, in the world, right now. Presently, one in three seniors will die from some type of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is actually the sixth leading cause of death in the US.  According to the World Health Organization, they expect the number of dementia cases to grow to 65 million by 2030.

Over the Counter Medications May Increase Risk of Dementia

There is presently no understanding of why a person does or does not develop dementia. There are factors, such as age and a family history, that prove to make a person at higher risk for developing dementia.

It is also proven that with good lifestyle choices, a person can delay or prevent dementia from developing.  There are a handful of factors that are believed to be a factor in developing dementia: hard of hearing, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking.  There is still a need for more studies to confirm that these conditions predispose a person to developing dementia.

New Study on Over the Counter Medications Causing Dementia? Are You Increasing Your Risk?

The Group Health Research Institute conducted a research study on 3,434 participants. The group participants were 65 years old and older. The study collected data from 2004 through 2012.

The  Adult Changes in Thought, or ACT, tested whether anticholinergic drugs built up in the body with long term use and could lead to an increased risk of developing dementia.

Anticholinergic drugs are a class of medications that block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain.  Anticholinergic medications are used to treat such conditions as:  muscular spasms, depression, sleep disorders,urinary incontinence,  and asthma.

Some anticholinergic drugs that may be in your medicine cabinet may include:  Benadryl, Wellbutrin and Zyban, Dramamine, Tylenol PM, Advil PM, and Unisom.

If you are a senior, taking any of these medications, have a discussion with your primary care provider. They may be able to provide other medications, outside the anticholinergic drug classification. If they cannot prescribe a different medication, you should request that they give you the lowest possible dose that is still effective.  Do not stop any prescribed medication cold turkey.

Here is a link to the JAMA study

NIH study

Medications that Mimic Dementia

Have a story about how an over the counter medication caused dementia like symptoms? Please share here? Help others realize that they are not alone. Submit Your Caregiver Story
Have more questions? Check out the Frequently Asked Question section of the website. You will find a lot of different questions answered directly.