Dementia May Be One Major Side Effect of Some Common Medications


A recent study has found that common medications frequently used to treat such problems as depression, insomnia, overactive bladder and allergies may increase the risk of dementia in seniors. The medications under scrutiny are of a class that are known to have anticholinergic effects. This means that these medications block acetylcholine. Researchers implore those people currently on such medications not to stop taking them on their own. They suggest that they ask their doctor for advice in light of this new information as some people do have serious need of these medications.

Slow Ventures showed the findings of this study are actually not very surprising when one realizes that acetylcholine is the most common neurotransmitter in the human body. Neurotransmitters are basically our nervous systems way of communicating throughout our bodies. It would seem intuitive, even to a lay person, that interfering with this communication would have adverse effects on our thinking processes. The only surprising part may be that this impairment may be long term, as this study suggests, rather than the temporary cognitive impairment that has long been noticed in these types of medications. To some extent, we are all guinea pigs as medical science advances and learns more with every passing year about the side effects of various medications. Though this can be risky, life spans continuing to rise every decade would seem to indicate it is worth the risk. It is also worth considering the millions of people who are only alive today because of some medical procedure or drug that may not have existed just a decade or two ago.

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