What Are The Side Effects Of Alzheimer’s Drugs

In this Article:

Jay Buchanan was a successful writer in his early 80s with five children and 11 grandchildren. He lived with his wife, Lily, in the suburbs of Washington D.C. and had an active work and social life.

But Lily had begun to notice a few changes; he was forgetting names and misplacing things and avoiding going for walks, something he had enjoyed all his life. The doctor diagnosed Jay with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and prescribed medication to control the symptoms. It seemed to work initially.

Soon, Lily noticed that Jay seemed to have lost his appetite and suffered from incontinence as well as appearing depressed and mildly aggressive at times.

After trying different combinations of drugs, he was taken off all conventional medication for Alzheimer’s disease. Although the disease continued its hold over Jay, Lily noticed that his physical discomfort decreased after stopping the medicines. Like many people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, she wondered if they were better off without the drugs.

First Things First: Do I Really Have Alzheimer’s?

Diagnosing a patient with Alzheimer’s disease involves a time-consuming consultation. Unfortunately, many people don’t get that kind of attention from their doctors. Elderly patients who show Alzheimer’s-like symptoms may be incorrectly diagnosed with the disease and then prescribed strong medicines with nasty side effects. Don’t hesitate to insist on a thorough consultation with your doctor before starting medication for Alzheimer’s.

The Current Scenario: Drugs Used And What They Do

The most common drug prescribed for Alzheimer’s is acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs). Cognex was the most popular AChEI until it was discontinued in the U.S. in 2013.

These drugs prevent the breakdown of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is important for thinking, reasoning, and remembering. But patients will lose the chemical all the same over time.

Another type of drug that is prescribed in addition to AChEIs is the NMDA receptor antagonist (memantine).

Do Drugs Help?

These drugs do help with some of the symptoms of early Alzheimer’s, but they do not cure the disease. And like almost all brain medications, they cause serious side effects in the medium to long term. These could include:

  • Mood Disorders like Depression
  • Confusion
  • Feelings of Agitation or Signs of Aggression
  • Reactions like Hives
  • Breathing Problems
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Incontinence and
  • Sleep Disorders.

It is important to follow up with your doctor if you experience any discomfort as a result of your Alzheimer’s medication.

Here’s a list of side effects of these drugs, sourced from the National Institute on Aging.

A Gentler, More Holistic Approach

There are gentler natural supplements that can help with the disease.

There are also doctors practicing more holistic, comprehensive approaches to healing Alzheimer’s, beyond using just drugs. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., has evolved one such protocol called M.I.N.D (standing for Metabolism, Infections Nutrition, and Drugs {lowering them}).

Mahesh Jayaraman

Mahesh Jayaraman

Co-Founder at Sepalika
Mahesh is a traditional acupressure therapist and health counselor. He is certified in Functional Nutrition from Washington State University and uses a wide array of healing modalities to guide his clients to vibrant health and well-being.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Sepalika.com strongly recommends that you consult a medical practitioner for implementing any of the above. Results may vary from person to person.

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