Symptoms of Dementia
Memory loss is usually the earliest and most noticeable symptom. You may also have trouble recalling recent events or recognizing people and places or having trouble finding the right words. Some people may have problems planning and carrying out tasks, such as balancing a checkbook, following a recipe, or writing a letter. Many have trouble controlling their moods or behaviors, judgment, such as knowing what to do in an emergency causing depression, agitation or aggression. Some start lacking in their personal care. Some have highly detailed visual hallucinations causing them to fall frequently. Personality changes, unusual behavior, not caring for others, saying rude things, exposing themselves, or making sexually explicit comments are all signs of dementia, which can come on suddenly suggesting vascular dementia or possibly delirium and short-term confusion.
There is a new study which shows common over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs are linked to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. This study clearly shows common over-the-counter medications widely used for asthma, allergies, and insomnia increase the risk for dementia. The study also found that even after several years off of these medications the risk may not be reversible. The drugs studied are anticholinergic drugs, which block a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, in the central and the peripheral nervous system. Many are used on a regular, long-term basis to treat a variety of medical complaints including the following:
- allergies and allergic reactions
- motion sickness
- irritable bowel syndrome
- excessive sweating
- urinary incontinence
- smoking cessation
- cough suppressant
- muscle relaxer
- Parkinson’s disease
These dangerous drugs include:
- Advil PM
The study showed the risk of dementia rises when these medications are used at higher doses or for longer periods. Unfortunately, it is not unusual to find these drugs used in combination. The the elderly are especially being given several different medications,which compound the effects for developing dementia. For instance, one individual may be using a sleep aid, an allergy medication, and a medication for depression. If all of these drugs are anticholinergic drugs, the accumulative effect increases tremendously, raising the risk of dementia. Even though earlier studies had shown these medications increased the risk of dementia,they also concluded cognitive decline decreased when these drugs were discontinued. This new study suggests that after years of continuation, the risk of dementia remains higher for people who have used more of these drugs or used them for a longer period of time. It suggests a cause and effect even when the drugs were discontinued years prior to the development of dementia. The study also showed that even low amounts over long periods of time increased the risk of dementia.
While the study focused on older adults, what about how this effects children and young adults? How many children and younger adults are regularly taking anticholinergic over-the-counter or prescription medications for allergies or asthma? How many adults of all ages are taking anticholinergic over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids? This should be a wake up call for all of us to remember that medications treat symptoms, not the cause of disease. To get well, to be truly well, we must give the body the nutrients it needs to heal. We must detox. We must live lives that are as clean as possible: clean food, clean water, clean environment.
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