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Long-Term Use of Cold Medications Up the Risk of Dementia

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It's a little-known secret that there is a more effective solution to insomnia than sleeping pills. Cold medicines can work wonders, including providing a restful eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, but is it really worth the cost? Recent research suggests that long-term use of cold medicines slows down the brain, leading to loss of memory and other side effects on the brain.

Cold medicines contain the ingredient diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, that can cause symptoms similar to dementia. This is particularly pronounced in individuals 50 years of age or older. Diphenhydramine blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is present in healthy brains and necessary for memory and learning. Individuals with dementia have lower levels of acetylcholine, and studies have shown that older adults that take over-the-counter cold medicines for three months or longer drastically increase their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Not only are cold medicines bad for the brain in the long-run, some states like Indiana are seeking to tighten sales of cold medicines because of the other dangerous ingredients, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Both can be used to make methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that is destroying Indiana communities.