Galantamine is a prescription medication used for the treatment cognitive decline in mild to moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease and other memory impairment. However, this drug does not cure Alzheimer’s disease. It only slows the progression of the disease rather than curing it. Galantamine should only be used to treat dementia only if it is confirmed to be Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease that slowly destroys the memory and the ability to learn, think, handle daily task and to communicate. This disorder that causes the brain cells to degenerate and eventually die. It’s the most common type of dementia- a continuous decline in thinking, behavior, and social skills. Alzheimer’s disease affects over half of all patients with dementia. This disease tends to progress, deteriorate and lead to death within 7 to 10 years but the progress varies from individual.
The progress maybe slowly for over many years for some patients while it may progress rapidly for others. As it progresses, patients will develop severe memory impairment and lose the ability to carry out the daily task. There is no current cure for Alzheimer’s disease but there are medications available to help slow down its progression.
Galantine is in a class of medication known as cholinesterase inhibitor. It helps improve the function of the brain by preventing the breakdown of the chemical acetylcholine. It also increases the amount of this chemicals needed for thoughts and memory. People with dementia usually have lower levels of acetylcholine. This chemical is important for the processes of thinking, memory and reasoning. Galantine helps improve the ability to remember and to think but this medication will not cure Alzheimer’s disease or prevent the loss of mental abilities at some time.
Galantamine is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a safe and effective treatment for mild to moderate vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a first-choice treatment for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and is available in generic forms of different strength.
When and How to Use Galantamine
Galantamine comes in an immediate-release dosage form that you need to take orally. Once, ingested, the medicine is absorbed into the bloodstream from the gut. The typical recommended dose of Galantamine is the immediate-release capsule is one tablet 2 times a day. Your doctor may give you a lower dose for 4 weeks, after that your dose may increase to 12 mg two times a day. Your maintenance dose is 16 mg to 24 mg a day in divided doses. The maximum recommended dose is 24 mg a day.
While the dose for a prolonged-release capsule is one tablet a day as the medicine is released into the gut slowly over the day. The prolonged-release capsule works best if you will take it with food. The initial dose is 16 mg a day and may further increase to 24 mg a day after 4 weeks. The maintenance dose is 16 mg to 24 mg a day. The maximum dose is 24 mg a day.
Swallow the capsule whole with plenty of water. Do not chew or crush the tablet. You can take it with or without food. Take one tablet in the morning and one tablet in the evening. Take this exactly as directed. Do not take more than the recommended dose.
What to know before taking Galantamine
Do not take it if you have:
- Severely decrease liver and kidney function
- Are allergic to any of its ingredients
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Blockage in the stomach, intestines or urinary tract
- Recovering from intestinal, stomach or bladder surgery
Use this medication with caution if you have:
- Kidney or liver problems
- Low level of potassium in the blood
- History of stroke or mini-stroke
- Chronis obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD
- Severe asthma
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peptic ulcer or an increased developing ulcers due to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID treatment like ibuprofen or diclofenac
- Active lung infection like pneumonia
- Heart disease like atrial fibrillation, unstable angina, heart block, heart attack, heart failure or sick sinus syndrome.
Possible Side Effects of Galantamine
Galantamine may cause some side effects in addition to its intended effects. Common side effects are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If the side effects mentioned above won’t go away for a couple of days, talk to your doctor. Serious side effects are:
- Serious skin reactions with signs like:
- Skin rash
- Sore throat
- Burning in the eye
- Skin pain
- Swelling of the face or tongue
- Atrioventricular block with signs like:
- Slow heart rate
- Slow heart rate
- Stomach ulcers and bleeding with symptoms like:
- Nauseas and vomiting
- Black and tarry stool
- Stomach pain that doesn’t go away
- Bloody vomit
- Vomits that looks like a coffee grounds
- Worsening of lung problem among patients with asthma and other lung diseases
- Trouble urinating
- Slow heart rate
- Chest pain
- Dehydration symptoms like feeling very thirsty, heavy sweating, unable to urinate
Getting the Best Result from Galantamine
- Your doctor may reassess your condition on a regular basis. If this medication is no longer providing a beneficial effect, your doctor may stop your treatment. It should only be used if the condition is confirmed to be Alzheimer’s disease.
- If you have stop taking Galantamine for 3 days, inform your doctor. Your doctor may start giving again a low dose and will gradually increase your dose to reduce the side effects.
- Do not stop taking your medication or increase your dose without informing the doctor. It may take at least 4 weeks of continued use for you to experience the full benefits of Galantamine.
- Galantamine won’t work if the disease is already worse.
- To make sure that this medication is safe for you, inform your doctor if you have:
- Epilepsy, seizure
- Liver disease
- A history of asthma
- Heart problems
- Drink plenty of water each (6 to 8 glasses) to keep you from getting dehydrated.
- If you are scheduled for surgery including dental extraction, tell your doctor ahead of time.