The Allergy Medication and Alzheimer’s Connection

over the counter allergy medicationSince researchers at the University of Washington first released their findings on side-effects of some common medications, people have had many questions about the relationship between common over the counter allergy  medication and dementia, pneumonia, and other side effects.

Initial Anticholinergic Study

The initial study linked long-term high dose of a common class of antihistamine, antidepressant and bladder control medication to serious, irreversible side effects such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Allergy Medication Connection

Anticholinergic medications work by suppressing the action of acetycholine in the body and brain.  This is a neurotransmitter.  That means it transmits messages to the brain.  Two over-the-counter allergy medications fall into this category:

  • Diphenhydramine (Bendryl)
  • Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)

Diphenhydramine is also a common ingredient in over-the-counter sleep medications (like Tylenol PM, Advil PM, etc.).

Other Medications in This Class

Antihistamines were not the only medications identified.  The antidepressant doxepin and the bladder control medication oxybutynin are also in this class. Sertraline (marketed as Zoloft) is included in the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This class of drugs is used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Read more here:

 Allergy Medication Alternatives

If you are still taking the older generation allergy medications, look at some of the newer offerings.  Loratadine  (Claritin, Alavert) is highly effective for many people with seasonal or indoor allergies.  The inhaled corticosteroids such as Flonase can provide relief when oral medication does not.

Allergy Control without Allergy Medication

allergy-wordsNot only should you talk to your doctor about your medication, you should also talk about other measures you can take to relieve your symptoms without medication.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, using a nasal rinse or neti pot with a saline solution can provide relief.

If you are allergic to dust, make sure you wash sheets regularly and use allergy mattress covers and pillow covers.

Til Next Time!


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