“Researchers … conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began … ‘[Taking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and taking two of these drugs doubled this risk.'” Reported in Physorg.org.
Why were elderly people allowed to take part in this study? It disappoints and angers me.
Over the counter (OTC) drugs like Benadryl (or Dimedrol in other countries), Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, Midol PM and Advil PM and some Unisom products if used regularly can cause decreased brain function in those over 70 years of age. Other anticholinergic prescription drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil are are made with the same antihistamine Diphenhydramine like their OTC cousins.
How do these drugs work?
These drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. The body uses neurotransmitters to speed or slow the transmission of nerve signals throughout the brain and nervous system.
Despite Benedryl being one of the oldest antihistamines on the market it is more effective than even some of the latest prescription drugs. Consequently, it is frequently used when an allergic reaction requires fast, effective reversal of the often dangerous effects of a massive histamine release. Its active ingredient Diphenhydramine works by blocking the effect of histamine at H1 receptor sites. This results in effects such as the increase of vascular smooth muscle contraction, thus reducing the redness, hyperthermia and edema that occurs during an inflammatory reaction. In addition, by blocking the H1 receptor on peripheral nociceptors (pain receptors), diphenhydramine decreases their sensitization and thus reduces itching from an allergic reaction.
The effects of Diphenhydramine the active ingredient in many antihistamine compounds include:
- Mouth/throat – dryness
- Endocrine – change in appetite
- Heart – increased heart rate (tachycardia or hypertension)
- Liver – toxicity in very large doses
- Brain/Memory/Nervous System – profound drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, short-term memory loss, hallucinations, dizziness, irritability, delirium, motor impairment (ataxia), restlessness, restless leg syndrome, clouded thinking, difficult mood changes, twitching may be delayed until the drowsiness begins to cease, confusion
- Vision-visual disturbances, abnormal sensitivity to bright light (photophobia), pupil dilation, blurred vision at nearpoint owing to lack of accommodation (cycloplegia), redness, dryness and yellowing of eyes
- Respiration– irregular breathing, decreased respiration
- Skin – itchy skin, decreased body temperature (generally in the hands and/or feet), flushing
- Bladder/Bowel function – urinary retention, constipation, nausea, vaginal dryness,
- Sexual -erectile dysfunction, excitability, decreased libido
- Atypical sensations – sense of heaviness, hearing imbalances
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