January 29, 2022 | Source: Harvard Health Publishing | by Harvard Health Publishing Staff
A report published in JAMA Internal Medicine several years ago highlighted a link between long-term use of anticholinergic medications like Benadryl and dementia. While this study and other observational studies have also found this association, it doesn’t prove that these drugs cause dementia. But we do know that anticholinergic drugs can cause confusion and increase fall risk in older people.
Anticholinergic drugs block the action of acetylcholine. This substance transmits messages in the nervous system. In the brain, acetylcholine is involved in learning and memory. In the rest of the body, it stimulates muscle contractions. Anticholinergic drugs include some antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, medications to control overactive bladder, and drugs to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.