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    Information about Donepezil

    Donepezil uses

    Donepezil is used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. It should be used in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease.

    How donepezil works

    Memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease occurs due to disturbances of signal transmission in the brain. Donepezil is a cholinesterase inhibitor. It works by increasing the levels of a chemical messenger (acetylcholine) involved in transmmission of nerve signals. This improves memory and thinking.

    Common side effects of donepezil

    Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea
    Content Details
    Written By
    Dr. Swati Mishra
    Reviewed By
    Dr. Khushbu Goel
    DM, MD
    Last updated on:
    18 Feb 2020 | 05:21 PM (IST)
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    Read Our Editorial Policy

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    Expert advice for Donepezil

    • You have been prescribed Donepezil to slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
    • It does not cure Alzheimer's disease but may help improve brain function and ability to do daily activities.
    • Take it with or without food, preferably at night before going to bed.
    • It may cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated while taking Donepezil.
    • Monitor your body weight regularly as both Donepezil and  Alzheimer's disease can cause weight loss.
    • Do not drive or do anything that requires mental focus until you know how Donepezil affects you.
    • Be cautious while taking this medicine if you suffer from peptic ulcer as it may cause vomiting, stomach bleeding, stomach pain, or discomfort.
    • Inform your doctor if you develop muscle tremors, especially if you have Parkinson’s disease.
    • Inform your doctor if you experience seizures or convulsions while taking this medicine.

    Frequently asked questions for Donepezil


    Q. Why is Donepezil taken at night?

    Donepezil is recommended to be taken before going to bed to reduce gastrointestinal side effects or nausea, which is commonly seen in some patients in the first few weeks of treatment.

    Q. Do the gastrointestinal side effects due to Donepezil persist for a long time?

    Gastrointestinal side effects may appear during the first few weeks of treatment with Donepezil. This can be minimized by taking Donepezil at bedtime and with food. Generally, these side effects are mild and disappear within a few weeks with continued treatment.

    Q. How long does it take for Donepezil to start working?

    Within the first month of treatment with Donepezil, you may experience improvement in thinking and remembering (cognitive effect). However, it may take about 12 weeks to see the full benefits.

    Q. When should Donepezil be stopped?

    Do not stop Donepezil without consulting your doctor. This medicine only helps to control your condition but does not cure it. Therefore, it may take several weeks to show benefits, so do not be discouraged if you do not see an improvement straight away. But, in case your condition starts worsening and you feel that it is no longer helping you, then you should consult a doctor before stopping it.

    Q. For how long does Donepezil stay in your system?

    Donepezil gets removed from the body very slowly. It takes about two weeks or more for Donepezil to be completely removed from the system.

    Q. Does Donepezil cause depression?

    No, Donepezil does not cause depression. If you are experiencing symptoms, then it could be due to existing Alzheimer’s disease.

    Q. What if I take more than the prescribed dose of Donepezil?

    Taking more than the recommended dose of Donepezil may cause vomiting, increased sweating or saliva production, slow heartbeat, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, seizures or fits, weakness, and inability to control your bowel motions or passing of urine (incontinence). You should seek immediate help from a doctor or emergency service of a nearby hospital.

    Q. I have been taking indomethacin for arthritis. Can I take Donepezil?

    Donepezil does not interfere with the working of indomethacin, but indomethacin individually increases the risk of stomach bleeding when taken for a long time. Therefore, if you experience any symptoms of stomach bleeding, consult your doctor immediately.

    Q. Does Donepezil cause hallucinations?

    Hallucinations are a common side effect of Donepezil, though not everyone is affected. Other common psychiatric side effects include agitation, aggressive behavior, nightmares, and abnormal dreams.

    Q. Who should not take Donepezil?

    Donepezil should not be taken by patients who have hypersensitivity to Donepezil hydrochloride, piperidine derivatives, or to any active ingredients used in the medicine. Also, it should not be used during pregnancy unless clearly necessary.

    Q. Can it cause insomnia?

    Yes, insomnia (sleeplessness) is a common side effect of Donepezil. Dizziness and fainting can also be seen as common side effects. Though these side effects are common, they do not occur in everyone.