Medications for Alzheimers
Medications for Memory Loss
While there are no medications or treatment plans currently available that can cure Alzheimers disease or stop this condition from progressing, there are some treatments that can help slow down the progression of this illness and help lessen the symptoms. One of the primary types of medications that people turn to when it comes to Alzheimers disease are medications for memory loss. The right treatment can help lessen the severity of memory loss and confusion in these individuals for a limited period of time, improving their daily quality of life significantly.
Types of Medications Available for Memory Loss
Currently, there are two different types of medications that have been approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) for memory loss.
Cholinesterase Inhibitors- These are drugs such as Exelon, Aricept, Razadyne and Cognex
Memantine- Also known as Namenda
These drugs are designed to treat the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimers disease such as memory loss and can also help with confusion and problems associated to thinking and reasoning.
Typically both of these types of medications will be prescribed together along with vitamin E treatments. Vitamin E is often prescribed to help with some of the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimers disease as vitamin E is an antioxidant and it may protect brain cells and other body tissues from chemical damage. Studies have shown that a high dose of vitamin E can help delay the progression of cognitive challenges in Alzheimers patients.
One of the main reasons that memory loss is a symptom or side effect of Alzheimers disease is because as the disease progresses it kills the brain cells and terminates the connections among these cells. This not only causes cognitive challenges but causes these symptoms to worsen with time. The aforementioned drugs cannot stop this damage from taking place, but they can help lessen symptoms or stabilize certain side effects of Alzheimers disease. This is because these medications can impact a number of the chemicals that participate in carrying messages between the brain cells.
Medications for Memory Loss in Early Stages of Alzheimers Disease
When a patient is in the early to the moderate stages of Alzheimers disease, typically the cholinesterase inhibitors are recommended for treatment. These are prescribed to help with challenges associated with memory, judgment, thinking and language.
The Function of Cholinesterase Inhibitors
These medications are designed to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain, an important chemical that is essential for learning and memory. With this type of treatment; the communication between nerve cells can remain heightened and many times this drug can delay the worsening of cognitive symptoms for 6 months to up to a year. There are very few side effects associated with these drugs. Typically there are three different types of cholinesterase inhibitors that will be prescribed depending on the individual patient and the progression of their disease:
- Donepezil, or Aricept; which is used at all stages of Alzheimers disease.
- Rivastigimne, or Exelon, which is used in mild to moderate stages of Alzheimers disease.
- Galantamine or Razadyne which is used in mild and moderate cases.
Memory Loss Medications for Patients in Moderate to Severe Stages of Alzheimers Disease
When an individual is in the moderate to severe stages of Alzheimers disease typically the FDA approved drug memantine or Namenda is used.
This medication is prescribed to help improve the memory as well as the reasoning and language abilities of those with Alzheimers disease so that they are better able to perform simple tasks. Typically this medication is given either on its own or with other drugs such as cholinesterase inhibitors. With memantine patients will receive a number of benefits as this medication regulates the glutamate activities in the brain which can help with learning and memory and it helps to temporarily delay the worsening or many cognitive symptoms.