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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

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Antihistamines and memory


Do you sometimes think you are getting forgetful? Antihistamines (first-generation) may be contributing to your memory loss.

First-generation antihistamines treat allergies by blocking the action of histamine, a substance produced by your body in response to an allergen, causing your allergic symptoms. They are available over the counter and may cause drowsiness.

First-generation antihistamines generally cause more side effects because they can penetrate the brain tissue. Second-generation drugs have fewer side effects because they usually cannot enter the central nervous system.

Examples of first-generation antihistamines include: Brompheniramine (Dimetane), carbinoxamine (Clistin), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist), diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and hydroxyzine (Vistaril).

How do first-generation drugs cause memory loss?

These medications (prescription and over-the-counter) inhibit the action of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger that mediates a wide range of functions in the body. In the brain, they inhibit activity in the memory and learning centers, which can lead to memory loss.

What are the alternatives?

Newer-generation antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin and Alavert)) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) do not present the same risks to memory and cognition.

Exampes of other second-generation antihistamines include: Astelin(azelastine), Clarinex (desloratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine), Xyzal(levocetirizine) and Patanase (olopatadine).

Many other commonly prescribed drugs also can cause memory loss. Antihistamines rank in the top ten. The other top nine include:

1. Antianxiety drugs (Benzodiazepines)

2. Cholesterol-lowering drugs (Statins)

3. Antiseizure drugs

4. Antidepressant drugs (Tricyclic antidepressants)

5. Narcotic painkillers

6. Parkinson's drugs (Dopamine agonists)

7. Hypertension drugs (Beta-blockers)

8. Sleeping aids (Nonbenzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics)

9. Incontinence drugs (Anticholinergics)




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Content copyright © 2014 by Sheree Welshimer. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sheree Welshimer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sheree Welshimer for details.

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