Dementia - Medications
Doctors use medicines to treat
dementia in the following ways:
To correct a condition that's causing dementia, such as
thyroid replacement for
hypothyroidism, vitamins for lack of vitamin B12, or
antibiotics for infections
To maintain mental functioning for as
long as possible when dementia cannot be reversed
To prevent further strokes in people who have dementia caused by stroke (vascular dementia)
mood or behavior problems, such as depression, insomnia,
hallucinations, and agitation
Medicines to help
maintain mental function
Cholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil,
galantamine, and rivastigmine.
These drugs were developed to treat Alzheimer's disease, but they may be tried in other dementias, especially vascular dementia. It is not clear
how long these medicines will work. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Memantine. This medicine is used to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, but may also help with mild to moderate vascular dementia.
Medicines to help control mood or behavior problems
Many behavior problems can be managed without medicines. For more information, see
In some cases, the doctor may prescribe:
Medicines to prevent future strokes
The doctor may prescribe medicines for high blood
pressure and high cholesterol, since these conditions are risk factors for
vascular dementia. These drugs can't reverse
existing dementia, but they may prevent future strokes and heart disease that
can lead to further brain damage.
For more information, see the topics:
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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