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Medications and Alzheimer’s Disease Index of Printable Pages
 
Learning about AD
 
Learning about Medications
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Missed Doses
 
•Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications
 
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Caregiving and Coping
 
Learning about Medications printable page

Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications:

Currently there are no over-the-counter medications approved for use in Alzheimer’s disease. 

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are commonly used for cold or allergies, sleep, or motion sickness.  Certain antihistamines contain active ingredients that can counteract the beneficial effects of the Alzheimer’s medications. These medications have properties (called anticholinergic properties) that can worsen a person’s mental abilities, especially in a person with dementia. 

An example is diphenhydramine, commonly found in over-the-counter allergy medications, such as Benadryl®.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)photo of pills

There is some evidence that inflammation in the brain may partly cause some of the damage seen in Alzheimer’s disease. 

Therefore, some over-the counter medications that reduce inflammation or prevent the accumulation of beta amyloid plaques in the brain, are being studied. 

These medications are called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and are generally used for aches, pain or fever reduction.  Examples of over-the-counter NSAIDs are aspirin, naproxen (Aleve®), or ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®).  

However, recent studies have not shown them to have any benefit in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease.  Newer studies are being conducted with similar products to see if they slow the actual onset of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

It is important to remember that chronic use of these medications have some potentially serious side effects, including to risk of bleeding and ulcers, as well as certain heart complications.

Always check with your pharmacist or doctor first before starting any over-the-counter medication for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

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© 2007 Geriatric Consultant Resources LLC.
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reviewed July 2007