Common Pain Killers May Work with Dementia

Ordinary pain killers like paracetamol may actually work better for dementia than other risky antipsychotic drugs, according to a new study released on Monday.

A study published on the British Medical Journal, dementia patients who took ordinary pain killers have significantly less agitation than those who were given standard treatment for the disease. Extreme agitation and aggression are two of the most common symptoms of dementia in its advance stages. Those behaviors are distressing not only for the patient, but also for the family members. The condition usually includes pain and the inability of the patient to pin-point the source of pain.

In many countries, powerful antidepressants and antipsychotics are the drugs of choice and are prescribed in at least 50% of patients with dementia in nursing homes. Those treatments are relatively dangerous. In Britain, for example, in 180,000 dementia patients treated with antipsychotics and antidepressants, there are 1,800 excess deaths and 1,620 excess strokes per year; a recent study has shown. The researchers said that these data clearly shows the need for a safer alternative treatment for dementia.

That is also precisely why a research led by Dag Aarsland was initiated. Over an eight-week period, a control group were given the standard treatment while the others were given standard pain killers – paracetamol, buprenorphine, and morphine. At the end of 8 weeks, several physicians who do not know which ones took pain killers and those who followed the standard treatment course interviewed the patients.

The study showed a clinical and statistical reduction in pain and agitation among patients who took regular pain killers.


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