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What drugs are used to treat early Alzheimer's disease?

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Quick Answer

As of early 2015, one class of drugs has been approved to treat early Alzheimer's disease, according to Mayo Clinic. Cholinesterase inhibitors help for a time with memory and cognitive symptoms. Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer's.

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What drugs are used to treat early Alzheimer's disease?
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Full Answer

Cholinesterase inhibitors include brand-name drugs Aricept, Exelon and Razadyne, according to the Alzheimer's Association. They are prescribed to help with symptoms related to language, judgment, memory and thinking. These medications prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain that is essential for cells to communicate, the association says. Cholinesterase inhibitors delay symptoms from getting worse for six months to a year, on average, for about half the patients who take them.

Few side effects occur with cholinesterase inhibitors, the association states. Some patients have nausea, vomiting and a loss of appetite. Some patients have more bowel movements than usual. In addition to medication, getting exercise and proper nutrition can help Alzheimer's patients improve quality of life, Mayo Clinic says. Exercise helps prevent constipation, helps the patient sleep better and improve mood.

Nutrition can be challenging for Alzheimer's patients because they lose interest in cooking or forget to eat, Mayo Clinic reports. Making smoothies with protein powder and healthy ingredients can supplement an Alzheimer's patient's diet.

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