Aricept Uses

Known by its generic name donepezil, Aricept is a prescription medicine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1996 for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, as reported by MedicineNet. It is not a cure, but it treats the confusion, or dementia, caused by the disease. Alternative uses, known as "off-label", refer to the discovery of other illnesses or conditions where Aricept provides some type of relief.

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  1. Alzheimer's Disease

    • Aricept's primary use is to treat the effects of Alzheimer's disease in its initial stages, with the goal of improving the symptoms that impact memory, awareness and ability to function. According to WebMD, it is an enzyme blocker that works to restore the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It works by preventing the enzyme from destroying the neurotransmitters. In order to minimize side effects, physicians prescribe the drug in low dosages, then increas it over time. Patients take one pill daily, usually before bedtime, with or without food.

    Side Effects

    • The side effects of Aricept apply in all situations: treatment for Alzheimer's disease or alternative uses. Examples of reported side effects include headaches, general pain, fatigue, dizziness, difficulty sleeping and muscle cramps. According to WebMD these effects usually subside after a couple of weeks of taking the drug. Serious side effects include irregular heartbeat, seizures, severe abdominal pain and trouble urinating. Notify your physician immediately if you have any serious side effects.

    Alternative Uses

    • WebMD lists diffuse lewy body disease, another type of dementia, as a condition Aricept may treat. Uses listed by MED TV include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,or ADHD. Aricept is not approved for use by children, so this would apply only to adults diagnosed with the condition that causes problems for concentration by the brain. Patients who suffer traumatic brain injury and have memory issues provide another opportunity for the use of Aricept. All of these "off-label" uses involve memory and concentration problems that involve brain neurotransmitters.

    Down Syndrome

    • An article in WebMD reports the use of Aricept on children ages 8 to 13 with Down Syndrome. Research showed improvement in language skills with the potential of increasing their learning and communication abilities. This study confirmed the results of a prior study that showed the promise of Aricept for Down Syndrome.

    Multiple Sclerosis

    • According to an entry in All About Multiple Sclerosis, a study showed modest improvement on a memory test for individuals with MS who were taking Aricept. MS causes some of the same mental problems as Alzheimer's Disease, although not to the same extent, so researchers saw some potential in Aricept for MS patients.

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