Certain medication may affect your thinking skills; a lessor known and potentially debilitating side affect:Anticholinergics, which can be found in over-the-counter and prescription medication, can alter your mental status and put older people at a higher risk for falls. Anticholinergics may be found in medications that treat for muscle spasms, depression, incontinence and allergies. Many of these medications are taken by the elderly thereby further increasing their risk for falls and cognitive function.
How does Acetylcholine affect the brain?These common medications can block acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for stimulation and activity in the brain. Slow brain activity caused by the acetylcholine being blocked, leads to confusion. People who are older tend to take more medication which leads to a chemical reaction that may impact the brain activity and also leaving the brain with higher concentration of acetylcholine. High levels of acetylcholine can eventually cause the body to have a difficult time to rid the chemical out of their bodies quickly.
Considerations for you and your physicianThe medication dosages should be based on the patient’s kidney function and your physician can assist with providing you the dosages that can treat symptoms while minimizing negative side affects. Frequently, the side effects of these medications can be mistaken for side effects of old age, so it is important to monitor side effects after starting to take medication with acetylcholine. You should also talk to your physician or pharmacist to find out how much acetylcholine you are taking, and let them know any over-the-counter medicine you are taking to ensure you’re not taking a high dosage of acetylcholine. Additional reading: The Role of Acetylcholine in Learning and Memory