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Alzheimer’s: Answers to Common Questions

1. Are there any bad side effects from Alzheimer’s drugs?

A person with Alzheimer's disease may be taking medicines to treat their symptoms and other health problems they have. But when they take many medications at once, there’s a higher chance they’ll have a bad reaction to them. The problems can include confusion, agitation, sleepiness or sleeplessness, mood swings, memory problems, and upset stomach.

Some people who have severe symptoms of Alzheimer's disease -- such as aggressive behavior or hallucinations (seeing, feeling, or hearing things that aren’t there) – may need stronger medicine to keep their problems under control. But some of these drugs can make their other Alzheimer’s symptoms worse. For example:

  • Some drugs such as tranquilizers can cause confusion, memory trouble, and slowed reactions, which can lead to falls.
  • Medicines that treat depression can cause sedation and other side effects.
  • Some medicines that treat hallucinations can cause sedation, confusion, and drops in blood pressure.

Ask your doctor about the pros and cons of these options. Also, some over-the-counter drugs, including cough and cold remedies, and sleep medicines, can have side effects, too. They may also react with other Alzheimer’s meds. A doctor can let you know which ones are safe to take.

Recommended Related to Alzheimer's

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Prevention

No one knows for sure what, if anything, can prevent Alzheimer's disease. Scientists are working on understandinghow people can control their risk for the condition through their lifestyle habits, like diet, exercise, social connections, and staying mentally active. It’s also hard for doctors to know for certain who has a higher risk for the disease. Alzheimer’s tends to run in families, but if you have a parent or sibling who has it, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it, too. Your best bet is to...

Read the Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Prevention article > >

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How long have you been taking care of someone with Alzheimer's?