Memantine helps to ease the symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer's disease.
Take one dose every day, at the same time of day each day. You can take memantine either before or after meals.
You will be given a small dose when you first start treatment. This will gradually be increased over the following few weeks.
|Type of medicine||An anti-dementia medicine (a glutamate receptor antagonist)|
|Used for||Symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer's disease|
|Also called||Ebixa®; Maruxa®; Nemtadine®|
|Available as||Tablets and oral liquid medicine|
Memantine is prescribed for people who have dementia which is associated with Alzheimer's disease. It is used to help the symptoms which affect thinking, such as memory loss and confusion. You can find out more about medicines like memantine in the separate leaflet called Medicines for Dementia.
Memantine is not a cure, but it can slow down the progression of the symptoms in some people. It works by reducing the amount of a brain chemical called glutamate. It is thought that this may help to slow down the damage to brain cells affected by Alzheimer's disease.
Memantine will be prescribed by a specialist doctor. It is prescribed for people with moderate or severe Alzheimer's disease, who for some reason cannot take the other medicines more usually prescribed for Alzheimer's disease. It will only be started for people who have a caregiver able to supervise the treatment. If you are the caregiver, please read this document on behalf of the person who is receiving memantine.
Before taking memantine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking memantine it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work, or any problems with the way your liver works.
- If you have ever had fits.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take memantine
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about memantine and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking it.
- Your caregiver will help you take your tablets/medicine exactly as your doctor tells you to. Take one dose every day.
- Your doctor will start you on a dose of 5 mg and then gradually increase your dose over the following few weeks. This allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition but avoids any unwanted symptoms.
- You can take memantine at whatever time of day you find easiest to remember, but try to take your doses at the same time of day each day. It can be taken either with or without food.
- Doses of the oral liquid medicine must be measured using the dose pump which is supplied with the bottle. When you first open a bottle, attach the pump to the bottle and 'prime' it by pushing the head of the pump down five times. Throw away any solution that comes out of the bottle as you do this. The next time you use the pump, it will provide a dose of 5 mg every time you push it down fully. Measure out the correct dose on to a spoon or into a glass of water. If you are at all unsure of what to do or how to use the pump to measure out the correct dose, ask your pharmacist to show you.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- It may take several weeks before memantine appears to take effect. Continue to take your doses every day until you are told otherwise by your doctor.
- Your doctor will want to check your progress every few weeks to make sure that the dose is right for you and that you are getting benefit from the treatment. Always try to keep these regular doctor's appointments.
- There are several strengths of memantine tablet available - 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, and 20 mg. Each time you collect a fresh supply, check the label on the box to make sure it is the strength of tablet you are expecting.
- If you make any major changes to your diet, please let your doctor know. This is because your dose may need adjusting if, for example, you change from a diet that includes meat, to one that contains only vegetables.
- If you are due to have an operation or any dental treatment, please tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking memantine. This is particularly important if you are going to need a general anaesthetic.
Can memantine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with memantine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common memantine side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well-balanced diet and drink several glasses of water each day|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling sleepy or dizzy, difficulties with balance||Take care as you move about. Do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Feeling short of breath, allergic reactions||Let your doctor know about this|
|High blood pressure, changes in your liver function tests||Your doctor will monitor you for these|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store memantine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Once opened, a bottle of the medicine only keeps for three months. Do not store it or use it after this time.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 70th Edition (Sep 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Prof Cathy Jackson