A  A  A   Print
Medications that Can Treat Alzheimer's Disease

Medications that Can Treat Alzheimer's Disease

Many people believe that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) can't be treated. The truth is that medications are available that may help slow the progression of symptoms. Although these drugs don’t work for everyone, they offer some hope for the more than 5 million people who have AD.

The FDA has approved five medications to treat Alzheimer’s disease. All the drugs may help temporarily prevent some AD symptoms, such as confusion and forgetfulness, from getting worse.

In addition to memory loss and confusion, AD can cause worsening speech and mood swings. In the later stages, the disease destroys a person’s personality and ability to think and function. In some people, AD worsens quickly. In others, it progresses slowly.

Just as the course of AD isn’t clear, neither is treatment. Existing drugs may slow the progression of AD in some people. The drugs are most effective when a person begins taking them as early as possible. It takes two to six weeks before any results appear.

These three drugs are used to treat AD in its early to middle stages:

  • Galantamine (Razadyne)

  • Rivastigmine (Exelon)

  • Tacrine (Cognex)

A medication that can be used for all stages is called Donepezil (Aricept). Another drug, memantine (Namenda), is the only drug approved by the FDA for the later, more severe stages of AD. It can be taken alone or with another drug.

Certain side effects may prevent people from using medication for AD. For example, tacrine may cause liver damage. Donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine can cause nausea and vomiting. Memantine may cause dizziness and headache.

The appropriate use of AD medications may improve both the patient's quality of life and that of his or her caregivers as well. Ask your doctor for more information. 

Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.