Ever taken Benadryl to help combat your seasonal allergies or maybe even treat your cold symptoms? This over the counter antihistamine serves many purposes as it can treat hives, sleep aid, and even help with motion sickness but, could it be “bad” for you in the long-run? Researchers have been investigating the link between long term use of Benadryl and an increased risk for dementia and their findings could raise concerns for avid users.
Benadryl is most commonly used as an antihistamine used to treat allergies. The way it works is by blocking histamines which are naturally occuring chemicals released by your body in response to contact with an allergen. Histamine is the culprit behind your sneezing, itching, and runny nose so, when bednaryl blocks the histamine receptors it relieves your symptoms and thus, saves the day. So what’s the problem? Well in doing so, Benadryl also blocks acetylcholine which is a chemical responsible for sending messages between the brain. This results in drowsiness, confusion, and memory loss. So this raises the question between a correlation between repeated use of Benadryl, its continual blocking of acetylcholine, and long lasting memory loss such as dementia.
The findings revealed that those who repeatedly (every day) used an anticholinergic medication like Benadryl for more than three years, had a dramatically higher risk of developing dementia, when compared to those who do not use them at all. The studies also found via MRI scan that those using anticholinergic medications also displayed signs of brain shrinkage. Additionally, these individuals scored lower on mental tests when compared against those not taking these medications. While these factors might certainly raise concerns for avid Benadryl users, it is also important to note any limitations to this research. The evidence presented points to warning signs of dementia however, it has not been proven that these individuals actually have or will have dementia. Be mindful of your Benadryl use and understand that this antihistamine is not intended for everyday use.
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