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If you take anticholinergics to help you sleep, read this

I've written about the negative effects of anticholinergics before. Now another study has been published that links anticholinergics to cognitive decline and even death.

Anticholinergics include both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl, Dramamine, Exedrin PM, Nytrol, Sominex and Tylenol PM.

A study looked at 13,000 men and women over the age of 65 for a period of two years. It found that those taking medications with definite anticholinergic effects showed a 0.33 point decline in their Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores. Two year mortality was also higher in those taking anticholinergic medications.

This is a good reminder that over-the-counter medications can carry just as much risk as prescription drugs. Always speak to your doctor before taking new medications or altering existing regimens.

Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

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Last updated: January 28, 2015

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

Leave a Comment

  • A. Marina Fournier
    September 6, 2011, 9:55 pm

    It seems odd to me to use anticholinergics to get to sleep, when acetylcholine is supposed to induce REM sleep. It also plays a part in memory, so it is absolutely logical that anticholinergics would have a negative effect on cognition, memory, and also libido. I suppose you might supplement your regimen, if you’re taking anticholinergics, with choline supplements or foods high in choline.

    I am however, not medically trained, nor do I play a doctor on TV/in movies.