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Use Of Prescribed Pain Relievers Has Significant Difference Among Patients With And Without Alzheimer's Disease

First Posted: Dec 01, 2016 03:37 AM EST
Paracetamol
Paracetamol is reportedly the most commonly used pain reliever.
(Photo : Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A new study shows the significant difference of the use of prescription pain medicine among Alzheimer's patients and those without the cognitive disease.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Pain, about one third of patients with Alzheimer's disease consume prescribed pain medications following their diagnosis. Although this pattern is common to both Alzheimer's and non-Alzheimer's patients of the same age bracket, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland found out that there was a significant difference in the types of medicines they used.

As shown in their study, 35 percent of Alzheimer's patients and 34 percent of patients who do not have the cognitive disease used prescribed analgesic on their first six months upon their diagnosis.

The most common medicine used by both groups was Paracetamol, but those with Alzheimer's disease were more frequent in using the said pain reliever. On the same duration, the same group used less of mild opioids and anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen to cure their pain.

On a six-year follow-up, however, paracetamol and opioid use increased significantly while the use of anti-inflammatory drugs continued to decrease. Paracetamol is the preferred first-line analgesic for older people, according to the study.

Older adults are prone to pain, so it is important for these patients to carefully choose the type of medication they are taking. Older patients, especially those with Alzheimer's disease, are required to have a regular check up on their pain and both the positive and negative effects of analgesics in their body.

While people thought that those with Alzheimer's disease do not feel much pain because of their inability to communicate it, Christopher L. Edwards, PhD, director of the Pain and Palliative Care Center at Duke University in Durham, N.C., points out people should not neglect the intense pain these patients are feeling.

"We traditionally assume that individuals without verbal ability don't have the same pain we do. That is not correct," Edwards told WebMD. "These patients do have the capacity for pain. Their pain is relevant, and it is deserving of evaluation and treatment."

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