Common Drugs Could Cause Cognitive Impairment

We usually think of drugs that are sold at a drugstore are safe for you, and if you doctor prescribes it you feel fairly confident they are going to give you anything to harm you. Well, think again. There are a number of prescriptions, and non-prescription drugs on the market today that some scientists say can have a negative effect on your brain and could cause long-term brain impairment.

These drugs are commonly taken for a variety of medical conditions, including sleep problems, nighttime pain relief, and antihistamines. The drugs and are called anticholinergics. The brand names include (just to name a few): Benadryl, Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, and Unisom in the over-the-counter brands; and Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil, available only by prescription. Many of these over-the-counter drugs had previously been administered only with a prescription.

The website Physorg reports: “Researchers … conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began … ‘[T]aking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and taking two of these drugs doubled this risk.’”

Anticholinergic drugs block a nervous system neuro-transmitter called acetylcholine, which has been found to be in short supply in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.   Blocking of the neuro-transmitter can then lead to cognitive and memory problems.

Simply because a drug is available without a prescription does not make it any less dangerous, it is still a chemical. None of these drugs cure the problem they are used for, they simply treat the symptoms. They can also lead to serious complications, and can cause injury. Elderly people can become disoriented when they get up in the middle of the night and fall. Those who run heavy equipment or drive a car can become drowsy or become disoriented and their reflexes may be slowed, causing accidents.

Researchers will continue to investigate the effects from anticholinergic drugs, but at this time avoiding them altogether is the best way to not become effected by them.

About the author:

Ron White is a two-time USA Memory Champion  


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