There was a time when doctors dismissed forgetfulness and mental confusion as normal, a part of aging we could not avoid and had to accept. Today all that’s changed. Now science knows that losing your memory as you get older isn’t inevitable, in fact, the brain can grow new cells and reshape the connections between cells all through life.
But if aging isn’t to blame for forgetfulness, what is? There are many other things that can impact memory. Alcohol and drug abuse, being a heavy cigarette smoker, heart injuries, a stroke, being sleep deprived, being under severe stress, a vitamin B12 deficiency as well as conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and depression are all known to play a role in our ability to remember.
What you might not realize is that some very common drugs have also been known to impact memory.
1. Antianxiety medications like benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety disorders, agitation, delirium, muscle spasms and prevent seizures. They can treat insomnia and the anxiety that sometimes is part of depression. When it comes to memory, these drugs dampen activity in key areas of the brain, including the ones involved in the transmission of events from short term to long-term memory.
2. Cholesterol lowering drugs, statins, are used to bring down high cholesterol but may impact memory and other mental processes by reducing brain levels of cholesterol. In the brain, these lipids are key to the formation of connections between nerve cells. Interestingly, the brain has one quarter of the body’s total amount of cholesterol.
3. Antiseizure medications although used to treat seizures, have also been prescribed for other uses like nerve pain, bipolar disorder, mood disorders and even mania. They impact memory by dampening the flow of signals in the central nervous system of which the brain is apart. Any drug that depresses the central nervous system also causes loss of memory.
4. Tricyclic antidepressants are given to treat depression and often anxiety disorders as well as eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, chronic pain, smoking cessation and some hormone related problems like severe cramping or hot flashes. Still, about 35% of those who take these drugs report some degree of impairment to memory, about 54% report having trouble concentrating. TCAs are believed to cause the trouble with memory because they block the action of two of the brain’s key chemical messengers.
5. Narcotic painkillers (also known as opioid analgesics) are medications used to ease moderate to severe pain, like that caused by conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs work by stopping the flow of pain signals in the central nervous system, and by blunting your emotional reaction to pain. Both these actions are managed by chemical messengers that are part of thinking, long term and short-term memory.
6. Parkinson’s medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease, some pituitary tumors and restless leg syndrome can cause loss of memory. These medications activate the signaling paths for dopamine that are involved in many brain actions including learning and memory.
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Memory Loss ? 10 Drugs To Avoid If You Can Continued…
7. Beta-blockers for hypertension slow the heart rate and bring down blood pressure
so they’re a good choice for those with high blood pressure, congestive heart
failure and abnormal heart rhythms and are also used to treat angina (chest pain),
migraines, tremors and some types of glaucoma. They cause memory problems by
blocking the actions of key chemical messengers in the brain.
8. Sleeping medications are used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, and are also given to patients with mild anxiety. Though they are molecularly different than the benzodiazepines, they work on many of the same pathways and chemical messengers, so they bring similar side effects in terms of memory loss. They can also sometimes trigger amnesia and dangerous/strange behaviors with no recall of the event when you wake.
9. Incontinence drugs are given to ease symptoms of overactive bladder and cut the feeling of urge incontinence, but these medications block the action of acetylcholine a chemical messenger that is involved in many functions. In the brain this substance inhibits activity in the memory and learning areas. The risk of memory loss is increased when these drugs are taken for a long time, or used with other drugs of the same type.
10. First generation antihistamines are used to relieve or even prevent allergy symptoms as well as those that come with a cold. Sometimes these drugs are used to stop motion sickness, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, as well as to treat anxiety or insomnia. These medications also inhibit the action of acetylcholine that in the brain acts in the area of memory and learning.
To your good health,