Sleeping aids ‘increase risk of dementia’

Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
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OVER-THE-COUNTER sleeping aids and hay-fever treatments can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, a study has found.

The sleeping aid Nytol and anti-allergy pills Benadryl and Piriton all belong to a class of medication highlighted in a warning from researchers.

Each of the drugs has blocking effects on the nervous system that are said to raise the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia significantly at higher doses over several years. Other drugs on the risk-list include older antidepressants such as doxepin.

Many of these medicines are taken by vulnerable older people, according to the scientists, who say their findings have public health implications.

The US study, which looked at 3,400 adults, found that the risk of developing dementia among those using the group of drugs was 54 per cent higher.

Simon Ridley, of the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said more research was needed. “In the meantime, anyone who is worried about the medication they are taking should seek advice from a doctor or pharmacist,” he said.