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Contraindications and side effects of memantine

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Discover the contraindications and side effects of memantine.

This medicine is used especially in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

A drug used against the symptoms of dementia.

Memantine is a drug that belongs to the group of NMDA receptor antagonists. As such, it is used to treat the manifestations of Alzheimer’s, both moderate and severe, although it is also used to treat different types of chronic pain.

Below we will see in more detail what memantine is and what it is used for, as well as its indications and some of its main adverse effects.Contraindications and side effects of memantine


What is memantine?

Memantine is a drug used to treat memory loss. It is a medicine especially used in Alzheimer’s symptoms.

The latter is a neurodegenerative disorder related to different alterations in the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are located in the cells of the posterior horn of the spinal cord and are responsible for regulating the transmission of electrical signals in the brain.

The activity of these receptors is essential in cognitive processes such as memory and learning, as well as in neural plasticity and some states of pain.


For this reason, altered activity of these receptors, especially when it is due to the presence of high levels of toxicity, is related to diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

What is this drug for?

Memantine serves precisely as an NMDA receptor antagonist. This means that it blocks or stops the oxidative stress associated with the increase of a molecule called “amyloid peptide B”, which is the mechanism associated with the loss of cognitive functions.

In other words, although memantine cannot definitively reverse neurodegenerative diseases, it does have neuroprotective and potentiating functions of different cognitive functions.

This is the case since it protects brain connections from toxic levels of calcium, an issue that in turn allows signals to be transmitted regularly between neurons.

In addition, memantine is not only used in the manifestations of Alzheimer’s but it can alleviate some neuropathic, psychosomatic, and chronic pain, some types of neuralgia and trauma, spinal cord injuries, among others.

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Administration and recommended dose

Memantine is administered orally. It is marketed in the form of tablets whose intake may be accompanied by food, but not necessarily.


The tablets are film-coated and contain 10 mg of the active substance, which is memantine hydrochloride (equivalent to 8.31 mg of memantine).


Other chemicals found in this medicine are microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate, croscarmellose sodium, and anhydrous colloidal silica.

Likewise, the film that covers the tablet is made of polyvinyl alcohol, titanium dioxide, talc, macrogol 3350, and yellow iron oxide.

As with other medications, the general recommendation is to take them at the same time each day. Also, it is usually taken in a small starting dose, gradually increasing over the weeks.

The first week it is recommended to take half a 10 mg tablet. up to date. From the second week, it is recommended to double the dose until reaching two 10 mg tablets. in the fourth week. This last dose is maintained throughout the treatment.

The above are general indications that may vary according to the recommendation of the specialist since it is always the medical staff who must indicate how to take this drug after personalized consultation.

Contraindications of memantine

It is necessary to take precautions in case of a history of epileptic seizures and in case of having recently suffered a myocardial attack.

Likewise, in the case of having heart disease or uncontrolled hypertension, in kidney failure, and in the case of taking other drugs with NMDA receptor antagonist properties.

The latter are those used for the treatment of Parkinson’s, such as amantadine; ketamine, which is used as an anesthetic, or dextromethorphan, used for coughing.


In the same sense, it is necessary to take precautions against the radical change of diet, for example from carnivore to vegetarian, and it is important to avoid taking it during pregnancy and lactation.

Adverse side effects of memantine

The adverse side effects of memantine are usually divided according to whether they are frequent, infrequent, or if they occur in very specific cases. Each of these divisions also corresponds to the level of severity of the effects.

1. Frequent side effects of memantine

They usually occur in 1 to 10 people out of 100 and include symptoms such as headaches, impaired liver function, constipation, impaired balance, vertigo, shortness of breath, hypertension, and drug hypersensitivity.

2. Infrequent side effects of memantine

They occur in 1 to 10 of every 1000 people and are manifestations such as tiredness, hallucinations, vomiting, high probability of fungal infections and clotting in the venous system (that is, development of thrombosis), heart failure, and impaired gait.

3. Very rare side effects of memantine

Less than 1 person in 10,000 may have a seizure. Furthermore, taking this drug during Alzheimer’s treatment has been linked to inflammation of the pancreas, development of hepatitis, psychotic reactions, depression, and suicidal ideation, and/or suicide.

However, the relationship between memantine and these latter side effects has not been sufficiently investigated, so the information on its possible involvement is uncertain


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