What Are the Side Effects of Anticholinesterases?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers

Anticholinesterases often are used in the treatment of dementia-related illnesses, including Alzheimer's disease. While this class of drugs often is considered effective for treating dementia, there are some side effects that may cause patients to be unable to continue taking the prescribed drug. Some side effects are rather mild, including headaches, nausea and skin problems. Other side effects may have a bigger impact on the brain or emotions than on the rest of the body, because anticholinesterases may cause insomnia, exhaustion or feelings of nervousness. More serious side effects also are possible, because this class of drugs can result in heart problems, seizures and difficulty urinating.

Some adverse effects of anticholinesterases are rather minor but bothersome and typically should be mentioned to a doctor at the next regular appointment. For some patients, the most notable issues involve their digestive tract, because they may suffer from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. While these usually are considered mild problems, some patients notice that there is blood in their vomit or stool, which should be mentioned to a doctor as soon as possible. Other mild issues may include appetite loss, headaches and skin issues such as sudden bruising or itchiness. In addition, pain in the joints and muscles may plague some patients taking anticholinesterases.

These drugs also may negatively affect the mental and emotional status of patients, so it is advisable to pay attention to more than just physical changes while taking anticholinesterases. For example, some people feel tired, dizzy or faint while taking this type of medication. At the same time, patients sometimes find it hard to sleep, and both the strange dreams and the feelings of anxiety that may come with this class of drugs typically do not help this issue. Some patients also feel confused and even angry for no apparent reason, and they should mention these emotional side effects to their doctor if the changes are negatively affecting their daily life.

There are some anticholinesterases side effects that should be mentioned to a medical professional right away, because they can be quite dangerous. For instance, some patients experience seizures, which can result in serious injury if the people around them do not know how to handle them. In addition, some patients experience heart problems, such as chest pain or a heart rate that is slower than usual. One dangerous side effect of anticholinesterases that often is more serious than it seems is difficulty controlling urination, which may be accompanied by pain. A fever while taking this type of medication also often calls for immediate medical attention, because this usually means that affected patients should be switched to a different class of drugs.

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