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Treatment of alzheimer disease

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At the outset let’s make it clear that there’s no complete cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment choices like medicines and therapies are only directed to reduce progression of the disease and bring about some degree of improvement in memory, brain function, behaviour and overall lifestyle.

Here we present a guide to treatment of Alzheimer’s disease:

Medicines for Alzheimer’s disease

The primary group of medicines used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are:  

Cholinesterase inhibitors- Medicines belonging to this drug category are Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and they are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease ranging from mild, moderate to severe. Cholinesterase inhibitors halt breakdown of the vital brain chemical- acetylecholine and thus, helps in improvement of memory and brain functions.

NMDA receptor antagonists- Memantine (Ebixa, Namenda) belongs to this category of drug and its mode of action is different from cholinesterase inhibitors. This drug is administered to protect the brain cells from overdose of glutamate which is released excessively when suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It may be used in combination with cholinesterase inhibitor.

Other medicines

Apart from the aforementioned drugs, doctors prescribe several different types of drugs to combat symptoms of anxiety, depression, restlessness, insomnia, etc. which are very common among Alzheimer’s patients. We list them below:

  • Mood problem and depression are managed with antidepressants. e.g. fluoxetine, citalopram, sertraline, etc.
  • Restless and anxiety might be managed with anxiolytic drugs like oxazepam
  • Doctors might also prescribe antipsychotic medication to manage extreme symptoms like hallucinations, aggression and anger.
  • Sleep medications might be used in patients for a short time span

It’s important to note that all the aforementioned drugs have their own side effects. Doctors evaluate the extent and cause of the disease and the general health of the patient carefully before administering the drugs.

Alternative treatment options   

Alternative treatment options act as a support system for boosting memory of Alzhiermer’s patients. They are:

Cognitive behavioural therapy: Patients might want to undergo CBT to not only improve their memory and daily performance but also to manage behavioural changes. The strategies help patients to lead a better and normal life.

Supplements: In the modern era, people are resorting to Ayurveda and alternative treatment options as they have minimal side effects. The most common supplement given to Alzheimer’s patients is – omega 3 fatty acid, which proves beneficial for the brain. Other supplements include Ginko biloba, coenzyme Q, caprylic acid, coconut oil, Curcumin herb extract, etc. The effectiveness of these supplements is a big question mark.

Along with supplements and medicines, doctors also insist on proper nutritional support. Patients are encouraged to eat more foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which essentially include lean meat, fish, nuts, etc.

Under any circumstances, you should not give herbal supplements to any Alzheimer patient without consulting doctor because many of them interfere with drugs and have several risks associated with them.

Care for patients

Care for alzheimer’s patients is an important aspect of the treatment plan. At an advanced stage of the disease patients become dependent on caregivers for surviving every day. It includes personal care- changing clothes, taking to washroom, personal grooming and also feeding. Apart from this, at the end stage patients might also require palliative care as they might be suffering from several body ailment and pain.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: December 22, 2014