A link between common over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for such things as hayfever to dementia has been uncovered by researchers.
Higher doses and prolonged use of medication for hayfever and insomnia was found to have a link with dementia in elderly people.
A new study published online on Monday in the journal, JAMA Internal Medicine, concluded that drugs with “anticholinergic” blocking effects on the nervous system increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in the long run.
Such drugs, which are also available without prescription, contain a substance that blocks a nervous system chemical transmitter called acetylcholine.
The risky medications include “tricyclic” antidepressants, such as doxepin, and the bladder control treatment, Ditropan (oxybutynin).
Previous research shows increasing concern that “regular use by older people of certain medications with anticholinergic effects, such as sleep aids and hayfever treatments, can increase the risk of dementia in certain circumstances,” said Dr. Doug Brown, director of research and development at the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society.
Meanwhile, Professor Shelly Gray, the leader of the study and director of the geriatric pharmacy program at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy warned the patients not to “stop taking the therapy without consulting their healthcare provider.”
She also suggested that the providers who need to prescribe such drugs “use the lowest effective dose, monitor the therapy regularly to ensure it’s working, and stop the therapy if it’s ineffective.”