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Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer`s and Sleep

10/14/2008

Question:

My Mother-in-law is taking Lexapro and Aricept. She has not had a MRI nor a PET scan determining whether she has Alzheimers but was given the diagnoses by the California DMV. Yes, the DMV. Who knew they were now MD`s and experts in ALZ? Anyway she will sleep 15 hours or more a day. Is this normal for someone taking either or a mixture of these meds? She was previously given Xanax for anxiety but these were d/c`d about 2 months ago. She has only been on Aricept for 5 weeks.

She does exhibit signs of confusion but acts like she has been over medicated. ie, sleepy eyes, inability to focus, extreme drowziness, and dry mouth.

Thank you for any information you can shed.

Answer:

Only about 6% of Lexapro users and less than 1% of Aricept users complain of dry mouth or somnolence. Therefore, it would be unusual for either to cause these symptoms. Perhaps she is taking other medications that might affect the liver's metabolism of these drugs. More likely there is another cause. Since these symptoms are new, I would recommend getting her in to see her primary care physician to look for other causes of these symptoms.

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University