Galantamine helps ease the symptoms of memory loss and dementia.
You will be given a small dose when you first start treatment. This will gradually be increased.
Take your doses with or straight after a meal.
|Type of medicine||Anti-dementia medicine|
|Used for||Mild-to-moderate dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease|
|Also called||Acumor®; Elmino®; Galantex®; Galsya®; Gatalin®; Lotprosin®; Reminyl®; Zeebral®|
|Available as||Tablets, modified-release capsules, and oral solution|
Galantamine 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.
Galantamine is not a cure, but it can slow down the progression of the symptoms in some people. It works mainly by increasing the level of a natural chemical called acetylcholine. This is a chemical which allows nerve cells in the brain to communicate with each other, and it is known that people with dementia have low levels of it. The symptoms of dementia can be improved by increasing the levels of acetylcholine.
Galantamine will be prescribed by a specialist doctor. If you are a caregiver, please read this leaflet on behalf of the person who is receiving galantamine.
Before taking galantamine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking galantamine it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have a heart condition.
- If you have any problems with your breathing, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- If you have difficulty passing urine or have severe constipation, or if you have recently had any surgery to your stomach, intestines or bladder.
- If you have ever had a gastric (stomach) or duodenal ulcer.
- If you have ever had convulsions (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.
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
How to take galantamine
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about galantamine and will provide you with a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Your caregiver will help you take the medicine exactly as your doctor has told you to. It is usually started at a low dose which is then increased slowly. This allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition but avoids unwanted symptoms. You may find it helps to swallow your doses with a drink of water.
- If you are taking tablets or liquid medicine, it is usual to be prescribed two doses to take each day. Ideally you should take your doses with, or soon after, your breakfast and your evening meal. Taking galantamine with food helps to prevent unwanted side-effects.
- If you have been prescribed capsules to take, you will be prescribed one dose to take each day. This is because these are modified-release capsules, which means that they release the medicine they contain slowly over the course of the day. Modified-release capsules have the letters 'XL' after the brand name on the pack. Swallow the capsule whole without chewing or opening it. Take your dose in the morning, with or straight after your breakfast.
- If you have been given the oral liquid medicine to take, you will be supplied with a pipette or dose syringe to measure out your doses. Each 1 ml of medicine contains 4 mg of galantamine. If you are unsure how to measure out your dose, ask your pharmacist to show you. Add your dose to any non-alcoholic drink, and drink it straightaway.
- If you forget to take a dose at the usual time, leave out the missed dose but make sure that you remember to take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Make sure that you drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.
- Your doctor will want to check your progress every few weeks to make sure the dose is right for you and that you are getting benefit from this treatment. Try to keep these regular doctor's appointments.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking galantamine. This is because galantamine may affect the amount of any anaesthetic you may need.
- If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines. Some medicines can interfere with the way galantamine works.
Can galantamine 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 galantamine. 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 galantamine side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, indigestion, stomach discomfort||Stick to simple meals. Make sure that you take your doses after meals|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids. Let your doctor know if it continues|
|Feeling dizzy, tired or shaky||Be especially careful if you are using any tools or machines|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Loss of appetite, weight loss, increased sweating, mood changes, feeling faint or unwell, and changes in your blood pressure and heart rate||If any become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store galantamine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- If you have been supplied liquid medicine, check the expiry on the bottle to see how long the medicine can be stored for after the bottle has been opened. 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.
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
- Manufacturer's PIL, Reminyl® Tablets; Shire Pharmaceuticals Ltd., The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2013.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Reminyl® Oral Solution; Shire Pharmaceuticals Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2013.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Reminyl® XL 8 mg, 16 mg and 24 mg prolonged-release capsules; Shire Pharmaceuticals Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2013.
- British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) 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.
Dr Hannah Gronow