Many people think nothing of taking “over-the-counter” drugs on a regular basis, including non-prescription sleep aids and the antihistamine Benadryl (diphenhydramine). While previous research has found a link between prescription “anticholinergic drugs” and dementia, a new research study found a strong link between dosage strength of over-the counter drugs and the onset of dementia in people who had no signs prior to the study.
The research done at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy in Seattle, reported their findings in “JAMA Internal Medicine” in January, 2015. Anticholinergics block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from being transmitted to the brain, and it is thought that this effect in medications containing this, contributes to the onset of dementia.
As you will hear in the video below, the study followed people, aged 65 and over, for 10 years. It was found, for instance, that taking 50mg of Benadryl and other first generation antihistamines daily for over 3 years or 25 mg daily for over 6 years, were at the most significant risk for dementia. The most commonly used medications found in the 800 people who developed dementia (out of 3500) in this study were: Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton (and other first generation anti-histamines); prescription tricyclic anti-depressants (doxepin or Sinequan) and meds for bladder control (oxybutinin, Ditropan). For younger people on a constant dose of ANTICHOLINERGIC DRUGS, this study should serve as a warning, as it is unknown yet whether such use could cause early onset dementia.
It is not advised that anyone discontinue any medication without speaking to their health care professional. However, these results as well as others named in the VIDEO below, is important information for those on drugs that put them at higher risk for dementia. There are alternative drugs that are available that your doctor can discuss with you.