What Are the Uses of Memantine Hydrochloride?

B. Chisholm
B. Chisholm
Memantine hydrochloride is used to treat patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's.
Memantine hydrochloride is used to treat patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's.

Memantine hydrochloride is used to treat patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It may be used alone or in combination with other Alzheimer’s medications, depending on tolerance and response. In most countries it is available by prescription only and requires close clinical supervision.

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease of the brain, usually seen in older adults. It is the most common known form of dementia. A loss of brain cells and changes in brain structure results in worsening brain function over time. This causes many disturbing symptoms including loss of memory, confusion and disorientation, loss of the ability to read and write and wandering which may worsen over time. Although genetic disposition may be involved, the actual cause of Alzheimer’s diseases is not known.

Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is purely symptomatic, as there is no cure. Various medications, including memantine hydrochloride, are used to decrease or slow down symptoms. Non-drug measures, such as ensuring a safe environment, exercise and good nutrition are also important, because as the disease progresses, Alzheimer’s sufferers may forget to do the basic things, such as eat. Psychological support for both the sufferer and their caregiver is vital.

Glutamate is a chemical which is involved in transmitting messages along nerve cells to the brain. It is thought that excessive activity of glutamate may be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Memantine hydrochloride acts by blocking the NMDA receptors in the brain, to which glutamate usually binds. This prevents excessive activity of the glutamate.

When memantine hydrochloride is prescribed by the doctor it is important that a caregiver is involved to monitor the administration of the medicine. It is usually given once a day, with or without food, at the same time. The dose of memantine hydrochloride is started low and increased weekly over a four week period to minimize side effects.

As with any drug, memantine hydrochloride may interact with other drugs. Any other medication, including over-the-counter, homeopathic or complementary medications should be discussed with the prescribing doctor before initiating therapy. Other medical conditions, such as reduced renal function or allergies, should also be discussed.

Some patients may experience adverse side effects to memantine hydrochloride, the most commonly reported one being dizziness. It is not recommended that driving or operating heavy machinery is attempted. In general, Alzheimer’s patients should not be participating in these activities anyway. Should severe adverse effects be experienced, medical intervention should be sought.

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    • Memantine hydrochloride is used to treat patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's.
      By: Robert Kneschke
      Memantine hydrochloride is used to treat patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's.