Font Size

Alzheimer's Disease Medications

What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in industrialized nations. Dementia is a brain disorder that interferes with a person's ability to carryout everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease usually affects the parts of the brain that control cognitive (intellectual) functions such as thought, memory, and language.

What Causes Alzheimer's Disease?

Aging is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), but most experts believe that Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging. Family history or genetics may be linked to the cause of Alzheimer's disease, but much research is currently in progress to better understand the cause. This research will also assist us in knowing more about how to best prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease.

Risks of Alzheimer's Disease

Patient Comments

Alzheimer's disease begins with subtle symptoms, but gradually becomes worse. Over time, the ability to think and reason clearly, judge situations, solve problems, concentrate, and remember useful information is lost. Eventually, people with Alzheimer's disease are unable to take care of their basic needs, or they loose mobility or the ability to speak. Behavior and personality changes are common. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, constant supervision becomes essential.

Medical Treatment

Patient Comments

Individuals with Alzheimer's disease should remain physically, mentally, and socially active as long as they are able. It is believed that mental activity can slow the progression of the disease. Puzzles, games, reading, and safe hobbies and crafts are good choices. These activities should ideally be interactive. They should be of an appropriate level of difficulty so that the person does not become overly frustrated.

Behavior disorders such as agitation and aggression may improve with various interventions. Some interventions focus on helping the individual adjust or control his or her behavior. Others focus on helping caregivers and other family members change the person's behavior. These approaches sometimes work better when combined with drug treatment for depression, mood stabilization, or psychosis.

Alzheimer's disease symptoms can sometimes be relieved, at least temporarily, by medication. Many different types of medications have been or are being studied in the treatment of dementia. Currently, the drugs used for Alzheimer's disease are not a cure, but they help slow down the rate of decline in some people. In many people, the effect is modest, and in others, the effect is not noticeable.

Certain drugs, such as anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen), vitamin E, and hormone therapy (estrogen) have been used on a trial basis in people with Alzheimer's disease. Experts think these drugs might help based on what we know from research about Alzheimer's disease. None of these drugs have yet achieved widespread acceptance as treatment for the disease.

The following sections discuss cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA inhibitors, which have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/1/2014
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Understanding Alzheimer Disease Medications

Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer Disease Alzheimer's disease (AZ) is the most common cause of dementia in industrialized nations. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are sublte at the beginning, and ov...learn more >>
Alzheimer's Disease Facts
Alzheimer's Disease FAQs Alzheimer's disease is a fatal brain disorder. Familial and sporadic are the two types of Alzheimer's disease. The three stages include early, intermediate, and...learn more >>
Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms
Alzheimer's Disease Stages: Symptoms and Signs Alzheimer's disease is one of the many causes of dementia. Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease typically progress over a period of years. There are warning signs of...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Alzheimer's Disease Medications:

Alzheimer's Disease - Symptoms

What were the first symptoms you or a loved one experienced from Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's Disease - Treatment

What medical treatment were you or a loved one prescribed to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Alzheimer Disease »

Alzheimer disease (Alzheimer’s disease, AD), the most common cause of dementia1, isan acquired cognitive and behavioral impairment of sufficient severity that markedly interferes with social and occupational functioning.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary