A recent study has established that the prolonged use of some over-the-counter medications may increase the risk of developing dementia. The study was conducted by the University of Washington and Group Health. Many over-the-counter medicines used to treat colds, hay fever and insomnia have been associated with older adults who developed dementia during a seven year study. All of the over-the-counter medications in the study produced anticholinergic effects. Because these drugs may have had devastating consequences on the lives of the study participants who developed dementia, many of their families should consider contacting a drug lawsuit attorney to further investigate the matter. Possible Links to Prescribed Drugs Approximately one-fifth of the drugs outlined in the study can be purchased over-the-counter. However, the study also established a possible link to several prescription drugs and dementia. Some of the prescription medications that have shown a likely association with dementia include tricyclic antidepressants and drugs used for the treatment of urinary incontinence. Prescription medications are frequently given to large numbers of women who are experiencing urinary incontinence. In fact, 57 percent of women who are above 40 years of age develop symptoms of urgency and incontinence. Families of women who have been diagnosed with dementia after prolonged use of incontinence medications may want to consult with a prescription drug lawsuit lawyer to explore their legal options. Study Participants The study included 3,434 people aged 65 years and older who had no signs of dementia when the research began. The study analyzed pharmacy and medical records to identify the drugs taken by each of the participants. Over the seven years they were studied, 797 participants developed dementia. Of those studied, the participants who developed dementia were taking these medications for three years or longer. Proceed With Caution Dr. James Leverenz is a neurologist from the Cleveland Center for Brain Health, and he has stated that there have been previous attempts to establish a link connecting dementia and certain medications taken by older adults. However, he believes this study is the best one so far. Although he was not part of the study, he did caution those who are considering taking these medications. He believes that people should be careful about taking these drugs if they have already had issues with their thinking skills. Lead Author of the Study Shelly Gray was the lead author of the study, and she believes that older adults should be aware that many medications, which include those available without a prescription, have strong anticholinergic effects. She stated that patients should tell their physicians about their over-the-counter drug use. She also said that if physicians want to prescribe a medication that can cause anticholinergic effects, they should use the lowest dose, and they should monitor the patient's therapy to ensure that it is working. She also believes they should stop the therapy if it has not been effective. Anticholinergic effects occur because some medications block a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine in the brain and body. This can cause many side effects, which include drowsiness, urine retention, constipation, dry mouth and dry eyes. The study clearly points out that when used over time, there is a strong possibility that some patients may develop dementia. The families of participants in the study who developed dementia may want to consider contacting a class action lawsuit lawyer for advice. Further Investigation Although a possible correlation has been made with older patients in the study who have used specific types of cold medications, more information may be needed to show direct proof that these medications actually caused dementia to occur.