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Painkillers produce severe side effects in Alzheimer’s sufferers, a new study demonstrates. Pain relief drugs create worse side effects when taken by people with dementia, according to a recent association discovered by researchers.

Dementia is a growing global concern as there’s no cure and no treatment that slows or stops its progression. Drug treatments are the only way to treat the condition, though it has temporary effects.

According to earlier studies, around 50 percent of people with dementia living in nursing homes experience substantial pain. But clinicians often unnoticed this pain and managed it poorly.

Both Paracetamol and opioids are used to treat the pain. In fact, clinicians have prescribed around 40 percent of people with 40 percent of people with dementia living in nursing homes.

In the recent study, researchers investigated the effect of opioids on this population. They analyzed data from 162 Norwegian adults with dementia and depression collected from 47 nursing homes.

They presented their findings at the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference this week which was held Chicago, IL.

They found that individuals who were prescribed the opioid experienced worse side effects such as sedation, personality changes, and confusion compared to patients taking a placebo.

The researchers said that they found three times the level of harmful side effects in individuals taking opioid buprenorphine.

“Pain is a symptom that can cause huge distress and it’s important that we can provide relief to people with dementia. Sadly, at the moment, we’re harming people when we’re trying to ease their pain,” explained Prof. Clive Ballard, University of Exeter Medical School, U.K.

The review was conducted by the researchers from three institutions including – the University of Exeter and King’s College London, both in the United Kingdom and the University of Bergen in Norway.