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Many Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Drugs Cause Memory Issues in Older Adults

- Friday, September 02, 2011

Commonly used prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause memory problems and other cognitive impairments in older adults. These are drugs that many older adults take on a regular basis for conditions ranging from urinary incontinence to depression, sleep problems, allergies, respiratory conditions, and acid reflux.
According to a study, a long list of drugs have been linked with causing cognitive difficulties, including problems with memory, concentration, and delirium. The authors arrived at this conclusion by reviewing 27 studies that had addressed this problem.

The drugs in question belong to a class called anticholinergics. These drugs are given to block the actions of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the nervous systems. Acetylcholine helps with learning, memory, and concentration, as well as the functioning of the heart, blood vessels, airways, and the organs involved in digestion and the urinary tract.

50% of older people take an anticholinergic drug daily. Many take a combination of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Anticholinergic effects include confusion, attention deficit, impaired concentration, memory problems, light-headedness, blurry vision, constipation, dry mouth, and loss of bladder control.

Older people are more likely to experience these effects because the body produces less acetylcholine with age. This means the acetylcholine produced has less impact, and the effect of anticholinergic drugs is greater.
Patients should consult their doctor if they are experiencing memory or cognitive problems and are taking any medications.

Antihistamines and sleep aids such as Allerest, PediaCare, Periactin; Benadryl, Sominex, Unisom, Phenergan, Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac are just some of the drugs that cause memory problems.

It’s important for older adults especially to have current information on any medications they are taking.

Original article