New studies carried out by the University of Exeter, King’s College London, and the University of Bergen concluded that dementia increases the usual painkillers harmful side effects by about 300%. The two studies were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2018.
The studies, conducted on 162 Norwegians, the researchers found that, in case of dementia, the use of commonly prescribed painkillers presents more potent side effects including personality change, sedation, and confusion, adverse effects that negatively impact the lives of people with dementia.
About 40% of the people with dementia in care homes receive opioid-based painkillers and paracetamol. However, the researchers found out that the effectiveness of usual painkillers can be achieved in lower doses than those currently prescribed by physicians. Also, the studies asserted that people with dementia are commonly more sensitive to the harmful side effects of opioid-based medications.
Usually prescribed painkillers have their side effects increased by 300% in cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
“Pain is a symptom that can cause huge distress and it’s important that we can provide relief to people with dementia. Sadly at the moment, we’re harming people when we’re trying to ease their pain. We urgently need more research in this area, and we must get this dosing right. We need to establish the best treatment pathway and examine appropriate dosing for people with dementia,” explained Professor Clive Ballard from the University of Exeter’s Medical School.
The study carried out by Clive Ballard’s research team presented why those people with dementia are more sensitive to the usual painkillers. Accordingly, dementia causes the body to produce more of its own opioids.
The second study examined the sensitivity to opioid-based painkillers in mice with Alzheimer’s disease and concluded that lower doses of morphine have the same effectiveness as standard dosages but without the harmful side effects.
In conclusion, both studies concluded that both neurodegenerative diseases and dementia increase the usual painkillers harmful side effects by 300%.