Most of us harbor some nagging fears about the onset of dementia. To reduce the risk, you may take proactive steps like upping physical exercise, playing brain games and eating certain foods.
But you should also be learning what not to do. There are certain kinds of toxins that you should avoid to protect your brain’s health.
These drugs can range from seemingly innocent over-the-counter cold medicines to prescription pain medications. What do they have in common? They block acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter in the body, which is a mechanism that leads to lower brain function. In fact, research has linked these drugs to increased risk of dementia and also to hospitalizations in older adults. They actually are thought to have the opposite effect of medications often used to treat Alzheimer’s, which work to increase acetylcholine.
Sometimes, you can’t avoid taking certain drugs, but if’s definitely worth avoiding them if possible. Here are seven common types of anticholinergic drugs.
- Sedating antihistamines
Take heed when you see “diphenhydramine” on the label (brand name Benadryl). Non-sedating antihistamines, containing “loratadine” (brand name Claritin) are much safer for the brain.
- PM over-the-counter painkillers
Most of your favorite OTC painkiller, such as Tylenol and Motrin, are available in a sedating night-time formula. Additionally, there’s a host of cold and cough meds with night-time formulas. Try to avoid these popular drugs when possible.
- Over-active bladder medications
If possible, avoid bladder relaxants such as oxybutynin and tolterodine.
- Vertigo or motion sickness medications
Avoid Antivert, which is often prescribed to treat vertigo and motion sickness.
- Medications for itching
Like cold and allergy meds, these drugs contain strong antihistamines.
- Nerve pain medications
Tricyclics, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline, are used to treat pain from neuropathy.
- Muscle relaxants
These include drugs such as cyclobenzaprine and they are often prescribed for back or neck pain.
When it comes to brain health, it’s sometimes all about what you don’t do. Take stock of your medicine cabinet, your brain will thank you!