Memantine is a medication that is used to treat moderate to severe dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It has the ability to block the function of a certain natural substance in the brain known as glutamate which is believed to be related to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Memantine does not cure Alzheimer’s disease; however, it could enhance awareness, ability to perform activities of daily living, and most especially memory.
As mentioned earlier, memantine is an oral medication used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Acetylcholine is one of the neurotransmitter chemicals that are needed by the nerve cells of the brain in order to have a constant communication with each other. Medications that are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease affect acetylcholine, these includes donezepil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne – formerly called Reminyll), tacrine (Cognex), and rivastigmine (Exelon). These drugs inhibit the enzyme acetycholinesterase that destroys acetylcholine, thus enhancing the effects of acetylcholine. The effects of memantine are independent of acetylcholinesterase and acetylcholine.
Glutamate is known to be the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Overstimulation of nerve cells by glutamate is believed to be the main reason for the degeneration of nerves that occurs following neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Just like other neurotransmitters, glutamate is produced and released by the nerve cells inside the brain. After its release, glutamate travels to the nearby nerve cells where it attaches to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, which is a receptor located on the surface of the cells. Memantine functions by blocking this receptor, thus reducing the effects of glutamate. By reducing the effects of glutamate and by blocking the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, memantine could prevent the excessive stimulation of nerve cells by glutamate. Last October 2003, memantine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As mentioned, memantine is used to treat moderate to severe dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The severity of dementia can be categorized into three levels: mild in which the patient is alert and does not have any difficulty interacting with people; however, forgetfulness starts to interfere with the performance of activities of daily living; moderate which is usually the longest among the stages of disease with deterioration of behavior, intellect, function, and logic; the last one is severe, which is characterized by significant loss of language skills and long-term memory. Patients in the severe stage are usually bedridden or wheelchair bound and needs 24-hour care; has no ability to perform basic activities of daily living such as eating, using the bathroom, and washing.
It is important that you read the Patient Information Leaflet (if available) from your pharmacist before you begin taking it and every time you get a refill. Talk to your physician or pharmacist if you happen to have any questions. The dosage of memantine highly depends on your response to the treatment and medical condition. Administer this medication via oral route before or after meals. In order to prevent unwanted effects, your physician would most likely advice you to start taking it at the lowest effective dose and gradually increase it once you have become familiar with its effects. Carefully follow your physician’s advice in order to avoid any future complications.
Once your dose reaches to more than 5 mg a day, take this medication two times a day or as directed by your physician. On the off chance that you are taking memantine oral liquid, follow the instructions that is written in the sheet that comes with the bottle. Avoid using a household spoon in measuring the dose since this could lead to inaccurate measurements. Always use the syringe that comes with the product. Avoid mixing the medication with water and swallow it directly from the syringe in order to obtain the most effective results. Take the medication same time each day so that you could remember taking it every day. Consult your physician as soon as possible if your condition worsens after taking mementine.
Some medical conditions do not respond favorably with memantine. On the off chance that you are experiencing any medical conditions, talk to your physician, pharmacist, or any qualified medical professional before deciding to use this medication. The following are the types of condition that reacts unfavorably to memantine:
Some medication do not interact favorably with memantine. Tell your physician or health care provider if you happen to be taking any of the following medications:
This is not a complete list of all the interactions that may occur. Always ask for advice from your physician if memantine may interact with other medications that you take, and always consult your physician before deciding to start, stop, or increase/decrease the dosage of any medication that you are taking.
Some of the most common side effects associated with the use of memantine include pain, fatigue, high blood pressure, headache, dizziness, back pain, constipation, hallucination, somnolence, difficulty breathing, and coughing. It could also cause a serious skin reaction known as Steven-Johnson Syndrome.
The usually prescribed starting dose for memantine tablets is about 5 mg per day. The dose is then gradually increased to 5 mg taken twice a day, then 5 mg to 10 mg taken at separated doses per day, and finally 10 mg twice per day. Memantine can be administered with or without food. 7 mg is the commonly recommended dosage for memantine capsules. The dose is gradually increased per week by 7 mg until it reaches a maximum dose of 28 mg per day. Avoid crushing or chewing the capsules. It should be swallowed or opened and sprinkled on a spoonful of applesauce.References:
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