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Alzheimer's Disease Frequently Asked Questions

Print these questions and answers to discuss with your health care provider.

 

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1. Are there any medications that someone with Alzheimer's disease should avoid?

A person with Alzheimer's disease may be taking medicines to treat symptoms of the disease as well as other health problems. However, when a person takes many medications there is an increased risk of having an adverse reaction, including confusion, agitation, sleepiness or sleeplessness, mood swings, memory problems, and/or stomach upset.

While it may become necessary for a person to take medicine to treat the severe symptoms of Alzheimer's disease -- such as hallucinations or aggressive behavior -- some of these medications can worsen other symptoms of the disease. For example:

  • Some drugs such as tranquilizers can cause confusion, increased memory impairment, and slowed reactions, which can lead to falls.
  • Certain medicines to treat depression, such as tricyclic antidepressants, can cause sedation and other side effects.
  • These drugs also can react with medicines used to treat Alzheimer's disease, including Aricept, Exelon, Namenda, and Razadyne.
  • Some medicine used to treat hallucinations can cause sedation, confusion, and drops in blood pressure. They also can react with medicines used to treat Alzheimer's disease.

It is important to discuss the pros and cons of these treatment options with your doctor before making a decision regarding medication. In addition, it is important to consider the possible side effects of over-the-counter medications, including cough and cold remedies, and sleep medicines. These drugs may also react with other medications taken by the person with Alzheimer's disease. It is best to consult your doctor before using any over-the-counter medication.

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