Caution! These drugs can cause memory loss.

memory loss

Check your medicine cabinet if you experience forgetfulness, confusion, or brain fog.

For a long time, doctors dismissed forgetfulness, brain fog, and mental confusion as standard parts of aging. Scientists now know that memory decline as we age is not inevitable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, knowledge, skills, and routine memory may improve as we age.

Many people know that many things can affect memory. These include alcohol and drug abuse, heavy smoking, strokes, head injuries, stress, lack of sleep, vitamin B12 deficiencies, and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and depression.

Many people are unaware that many commonly prescribed medications can also interfere with memory. Here are seven types of drugs that can cause memory loss.

Antianxiety Drugs (Benzodiazepines). Why are they prescribed? They are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, seizures, delirium, muscle spasms, and agitation. Because they have a soothing action, benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat insomnia or anxiety associated with depression.

Examples Alprazolam is a common name for Xanax, chlordiazepoxide is a generic name for Klonopin, diazepam or Valium, flurazepam and lorazepam are brand names of Ativan, midazolam quazepam is a generic term for Doral, temazepam a generic word that means Restoril, triazolam a generic name.

Drugs that may cause memory loss

  1. Anti Anxiety medications
  2. Antiseizure drugs
  3. Tricyclic Antidepressants (Older Class)
  4. Narcotic painkillers
  5. Sleeping aids
  6. Incontinence drugs
  7. Antihistamines (first generation)

How benzodiazepines can affect memory. They dampen the activity in specific brain parts that transfer events from short-term memory to long-term. They’re used as anesthesia because of this.

Alternatives Benzodiazepines are only prescribed to older adults in rare cases and only for a short period. The older person takes longer to flush out these drugs, putting them at greater risk of memory loss, delirium, falls, fractures, and motor vehicle accidents. D.P. says that they are addictive. Devanand M.D. is a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

Talk to your doctor about other drug or non-drug options if you are taking one of these medications for insomnia, mild anxiety, or agitation. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is the first treatment for insomnia. Devanand says that an antidepressant may be able to treat your anxiety.

Consult your doctor before stopping or reducing any benzodiazepine. Sudden withdrawal may cause serious side effects. A health professional should monitor the process.

What is the Status of Statins

Statins were included in an earlier version published in 2016. However, more recent research has removed these cholesterol-lowering medications from the list.

Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., is chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern Medicine, and the immediate past president of the American Heart Association (AHA). A scientific statement released by the AHA in 2018 states that there is no “convincing evidence” for a causal link between statins, cognitive dysfunction, and other factors.

Lloyd-Jones said that statins effectively prevent strokes and may therefore protect against cognitive degeneration.

Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about possible side effects from statins or other drugs. Any medication can have a variety of side effects. Lloyd-Jones says that side effects vary from person to person.

  1. Antiseizure drugs

Why are they prescribed? These medications have been used for many years to treat seizures. They can also be defined in cases of nerve pain, bipolar disorders, mood disorders, and mania.

Examples include: Acetazolamide, carbamazepine, gabapentin, lamotrigine and levetiracetam.

How anticonvulsants can affect memory: Anticonvulsants may limit seizures by reducing the flow of signals within the central nervous system (CNS). Memory loss can be caused by drugs that suppress signaling within the CNS. It’s important to remember that these medications can cause sedation. “Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between a true decline in cognition and simple sedation,” Devanand explains.

Alternatives Phenytoin (Dilantin) is effective for many patients who suffer from seizures. It has a less negative impact on memory when taken at lower doses. Venlafaxine (Effexor), which spares memory, effectively relieves chronic nerve pain. You can also ask your doctor about adjusting the dosage. Devanand says that low doses are more likely to cause cognitive decline symptoms.

  1. Tricyclic antidepressants

Why are they prescribed? Although tricyclics, an older class of antidepressants, are defined less frequently, some people still use them for depression, anxiety disorders, and nerve-related pain.

Example: Amitriptyline is a combination of clomipramine, doxepin, and imipramine.

They can affect memory. Tricyclic Antidepressants can cause memory lapses by blocking the actions of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.

Alternatives The newer antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibits (SSRIs), don’t cause the same cognitive impairments that tricyclic antidepressants do. Talk to your doctor about non-drug treatments that may work or are even better than drugs.

  1. Narcotic painkillers

When prescribed: These drugs are often prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain caused by surgery or injury. They can be used in some cases to treat chronic pain.

Examples: Fentanyl, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. These drugs are available in many forms, including tablets, injection solutions, transdermal patches, and suppositories.

They can affect memory by: These medications work by reducing the emotional response to pain and by preventing the pain signals from reaching the central nervous system. These actions are both mediated by chemicals that are involved in cognition. Therefore, these drugs can affect long-term and short-term memories, mainly if used over a prolonged period. Researchers have found a connection between opioid use and the development of dementia in older adults.

Alternatives to Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are used as the first line of pain relief for patients younger than 50. Unfortunately, NSAIDs are not recommended for older patients at a higher risk of gastrointestinal hemorrhaging. The risk increases with dosage and treatment duration, according to research.

Tramadol is a non-narcotic painkiller. Discuss with your doctor if it’s right for you. Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, is another option. However, you should consult your doctor to discuss the risks, side effects, and drug interactions associated with all medications.

Beta Blockers and Your Memory

Lloyd-Jones explains that while there is no evidence to suggest beta-blockers, which are prescribed for heart failure or angina and certain heart rhythm disorders, and sometimes hypertension, contribute to dementia over the long term, they may make people feel “fatigued,” “foggy,” and “not at their sharpest,” she says.

Do not stop taking your medication if you feel these side effects. Lloyd-Jones recommends you talk to your doctor about switching beta-blockers with a slightly new chemical composition.

  1. Sleeping aids (nonbenzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics)

They are prescribed to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Also, they are prescribed to treat mild anxiety.

Examples: Eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), and zolpidem (Ambien).

They can affect your memory. However, they are molecularly different from benzodiazepines (see No. They act on the same chemical messengers and brain pathways as benzodiazepines (see No.1). This results in similar side effects, addiction problems, and withdrawal symptoms. The “Z” drug can also cause amnesia and trigger strange or dangerous behaviors. For example, cooking or driving in a car without remembering the event when you wake up.

Alternatives: There are non-drug and alternative treatments for anxiety and insomnia. Talk to your doctor about the options. Melatonin can be used to help restore healthy sleep patterns. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia is the primary treatment for this sleep disorder.

Consult your doctor before stopping or reducing the dosage. Sudden withdrawal from sleeping aids can have serious side effects. A health professional should monitor the process.

  1. Incontinence drugs (Anticholinergics)

Why are they prescribed? These drugs are prescribed to reduce the symptoms of an overactive bladder and treat urge incontinence episodes. Urge incontinence is a sudden urge to urinate that can be so strong you cannot reach a toilet in time.

Examples are Darifenacin, oxybutynin, solifenacin, tolterodine, and trospium. Oxytrol for Women is another oxybutynin-based product that can be purchased over the counter.

They can affect memory. These drugs block the action of acetylcholine. This chemical messenger mediates many functions in the human body. Anticholinergics prevent the involuntary contraction of muscles that control urine flow. They inhibit the activity of the memory and learning centers in the brain. Memory loss can be problematic if the drug is taken for a long time or combined with another anticholinergic drug.

Anticholinergic medications can also cause other side effects, such as blurred vision, nausea, anxiety, depression, and hallucinations.

Alternatives to: You must be properly diagnosed as a first step. Consult your doctor to determine if the symptoms of urinary incontinence are due to another condition, such as a bladder infection or another type of incontinence.

After these have been ruled out, you can make some lifestyle changes, such as reducing your intake of caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, drinking less alcohol before bedtime, and strengthening the pelvic muscles, which help control urination.

Some urologists use Botox injections to relax the muscles. There are other solutions besides the drug aisle. “I am pleased with the improvements made in protective [underwear] items. K. Ashley Garling Nanez, the clinical assistant at the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, says they’ve come a long way. There are more options available for active adults.

  1. Antihistamines (first generation)

Why are they prescribed? These drugs are prescribed to treat or prevent symptoms of allergies or the common cold. Antihistamines can also treat anxiety, insomnia, motion sickness, and nausea.

Examples are Brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine, clemastine, and diphenhydramine.

They can affect memory. These drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) inhibit acetylcholine’s action, a chemical messenger that mediates many functions in the human body. They inhibit the activity of the memory and learning centers in the brain.

Alternatives Newer-generation antihistamines, such as loratadine and cetirizine, are better tolerated by older people and don’t present the same risks for memory and cognition.

Other medicines worth noting

Corticosteroids. Devanand says that these anti-inflammatory medications, used for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other conditions, may cause confusion and memory problems in patients who take high doses. These drugs can trigger depression.

Heartburn medications. Recent studies, such as one published in BMC Medicine in 2022, found a connection between the drugs used to treat gastroesophageal acid reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcers, and heartburn with increased dementia risk. Garling-Nanez advises you only to take proton pump inhibitors in small doses and not for long periods. She recommends using something over-the-counter for up to two weeks.

Cannabinoids. Cannabis use and access have increased in recent years. Research shows cannabis can affect our cognition. In a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in March 2022, a survey of approximately 1,000 people found that long-term marijuana users had cognitive deficits and attention and memory problems. A study published in 2020 showed that cannabis use is associated with impairments of executive function, memory, and learning.

Check Your Numbers

Your memory could also be affected by the number of medications you take. Multiple drugs — also known as polypharmacy – have been associated with a lower memory function among older adults and a higher risk of delirium.

The Lown Institute report shows that 42 percent of older adults take five or more prescription drugs. Garling-Nanez recommends asking your doctor whether all the pills in your pillbox are still necessary or if you can cut back on any. You should only stop taking medications under the guidance of your doctor. She adds that some medications must be tapered; they can’t be stopped abruptly.