Generic name: Donepezil hydrochlorideBrand names: Aricept
Aricept is one of the few drugs that can provide some relief from the symptoms of early Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease causes physical changes in the brain that disrupt the flow of information and interfere with memory, thinking, and behavior. Aricept can temporarily improve brain function in some Alzheimer's sufferers, although it does not halt the progress of the underlying disease.
To maintain any improvement, Aricept must be taken regularly. If the drug is stopped, its benefits will soon be lost. Patience is in order when starting the drug. It can take up to 3 weeks for any positive effects to appear.
Aricept should be taken once a day just before bedtime. Be sure it's taken every day. If Aricept is not taken regularly, it won't work. It can be taken with or without food.
Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell the doctor as soon as possible. Only the doctor can determine if it is safe to continue Aricept.
Side effects are more likely with higher doses. The most common are diarrhea, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, nausea, and vomiting. When one of these effects occurs, it is usually mild and gets better as treatment continues.
There are two reasons to avoid Aricept: an allergic reaction to the drug itself, or an allergy to the group of antihistamines that includes azatadine, cyproheptadine hydrochloride, fexofenadine hydrochloride, hydroxyzine hydrochloride, and loratadine.
Aricept can aggravate asthma and other breathing problems, and can increase the risk of seizures. It can also slow the heartbeat, cause heartbeat irregularities, and lead to fainting episodes. Contact your doctor if any of these problems occur.
In patients who have had stomach ulcers, and those who take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, Aricept can make stomach side effects worse. Be cautious when using Aricept and report all side effects to your doctor.
Aricept will increase the effects of certain anesthetics. Make sure the doctor is aware of Aricept therapy prior to any surgery.
If Aricept is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Aricept with the following:Antispasmodic drugs such as dicyclomine hydrochloride and propanthelineBethanechol chlorideCarbamazepineDexamethasoneKetoconazolePhenobarbitalPhenytoinQuinidineRifampin
Since it is not intended for women of child-bearing age, Aricept's effects during pregnancy have not been studied, and it is not known whether it appears in breast milk.
The usual starting dose is 5 milligrams once a day at bedtime for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Do not increase the dose during this period unless directed. The doctor may then change the dosage to 10 milligrams once a day if response to the drug warrants it.
The safety and effectiveness of Aricept have not been established in children.
Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.