Monday, 18 July 2011

Painkillers vs antipsychotics in dementia care

A very, very short post this one (I promise). The news here in the UK has been abuzz with lots of things today (that newspaper, that media baron, etc) but in amongst the talk of resignations, and Parliamentary hearings, a piece appeared on the BBC website about a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The study is here (full-text) and suggests that using various analgesics, including paracetamol (acetaminophen), with patients with dementia might decrease levels of 'agitation' over and above that which might be expected from the use of various antipsychotics, traditionally the first line of treatment for such issues. People with dementia can suffer pain (believe it or not!) and antipsychotics are not necessarily the best analgesic.

I am still digesting the study, its very comprehensive methodology and its findings, but already a few parallels are emerging with autism spectrum conditions. Principal among them is the notion that not every 'ill' that a person with autism might present with is necessarily due to their autism. I have hinted about this in a previous post on self-injurious behaviour (SIB) and the so-called challenging behaviours in autism. One could also conceivably see some relationship to the various bowel problems associated with some cases of autism and particularly Buie and colleagues' assertion about gastrointestinal problems, pain and 'aberrant behaviours' related to autism.  

Worth a look.