* – As a personal note: THIS certainly sheds light as to WHY Dr. Nils Gaddis advised me to stay away from Benadryl.
* Do all of our loved ones & friends KNOW ?
* Note: Taken from Health Sciences Institute e-Alert – Melissa Young 1/3/17
They’re the drugs that are making seniors sick – and sending them to the ER in droves.
These meds also happen to be among some of the most commonly-used ones — both Rx and OTC — to help with things like getting to sleep at night and managing pain. They are even taken daily for allergies!
And when you hear some of the names, I know you’re going to be shocked.
In fact, you probably have one – or more – in your purse, car or medicine cabinet right now.
Dementia in a bottle
Brain shrinkage, dementia, Alzheimer’s… it’s hard to imagine the news about this class of drugs, called anticholinergics, could get any worse.
But it has.
A recent study from the Indiana University Center for Aging Research looked at what the researchers called the “anticholinergic burden.” That means, how much of these kinds of drugs you take.
And the bigger that burden is, the more chance you have of ending up in the ER.
For example, some of the ones with a stronger effect are sleeping pills and OTC antihistamines (I’ll give you more examples below). The researchers discovered that just taking one of these drugs daily can up your risk of being admitted to the hospital by 33 percent!
Even meds that are considered to have a weaker anticholinergic effect can increase your odds of landing in the hospital by over 10 percent, simply by taking them every day.
These drugs work by blocking an important brain chemical — and it just so happens to be one that is essential for memory. So, it’s no surprise that last year researchers found that people who take this class of meds for prolonged periods of time have a higher risk of dementia.
But even as little as two months of daily use would be enough to cause “cognitive impairment.”
The Indiana University researchers have been looking at how these drugs can damage the brain for over a decade now, including some recent findings about how they can even cause your brain to shrink! But this is the first time that actual prescription data has been analyzed to see what the real world effects of ER visits and hospitalizations might be.
Drugs with anticholinergic activity cover a vast expanse of all different kinds of meds, so I can’t list them all for you, but here are some of the more common ones.
- Oxybutynin (Ditropan), Toviaz and Detrol, taken for overactive bladder. Oxybutynin is also found in an OTC version called Oxytrol.
- Chlor-Trimeton, Benadryl, and Atarax, taken for allergies.
- Tylenol PM and Advil PM.
- Dramamine, taken for nausea and motion sickness.
- Paxil and other antidepressants.
Since there are dozens of drugs that fall into this category, it’s easy as can be to take two or more. And along with all the studies that have been coming out, many people have been reporting forgetfulness, confusion and being in a “fuzzy” state while taking them.
One woman told a consumer group how after taking Ditropan for OAB for four years she would arrive at work with no memory of the drive there. Another reported how after taking a variety of these types of meds for many years, now in her 50s she’s forgetting how to use common, everyday objects.
Whether you can stop taking any of these drugs cold turkey or not depends on which ones. Some, such as antidepressants, need to be discontinued very slowly. But if you’ve been taking any medication for long periods of time, you should consult with your doctor to find out the best – and safest — way to get off of it.
The Aging Brain Program at Indiana University has made up a long list of anticholinergic drugs that you can find here.
To Thinking Clearly,
“Anticholinergic drugs linked to increased rate of emergency department and hospital visits” Indiana University, December 21, 2016, Medical Life Sciences, news-medical.net