A new study has found out that common over-the-counter or OTC drugs hurt the brain and increase a person’s risk of suffering from dementia, says Ben Tinker in a report for CNN.
Dramamine, Benadryl among medications that can hurt the brain
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, reveals that anticholinergic drugs are linked to cognitive impairment as well. Among the common medication brands that fall under the anticholinergic classification are Dramamine, Dimetapp, Demerol, Paxil, Benadryl, VESIcare and Unisom. All these drugs are sold over the counter and by prescription as sleep aids as well as to address conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
The researchers used brain imaging techniques to find out that study participants who are taking anticholinergic drugs have reduced brains sizes as well as lower levels of glucose metabolism, which is a a biomarker for brain activity. Memory and cognitive tests also show that participants who are on anticholinergic drugs did not do well on short-term memory tests, as well as on some tests of executive function. They were also found to have reduced brain volume and larger ventricles, which are the cavities inside the brain.
“These findings might give us clues to the biological basis for the cognitive problems associated with anticholinergic drugs, but additional studies are needed if we are to truly understand the mechanisms involved,” Shannon Risacher, an assistant professor of radiology and imaging sciences, said.
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Side effects of OTC drugs is worrisome
We are all aware that any medication available today has potential side effects. This new study, however, sheds a lot of light on what these drugs do to our brains in the long term, and the findings are kind of worrying. After all, most, if not all, of us have taken anticholinergic drugs at some point in our lives, in one form or another. And, we are all also likely to take them again at some time in the future. This is the reality of the side effects of OTC drugs, and we all have to adjust to that reality.