Prescription and over-the-counter medications are common sources of visual hallucinations in older adults. The most frequent offenders are anticholinergic agents, many of which are available over the counter, and dopaminergic agents, such as levodopa and dopamine agonists.
A number of psychiatric medications such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), and haloperidol (Haldol) have all been associated with causing hallucinations, in addition to zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), ropinirole (Requip), and some seizure medications.
Dementia causes changes in the brain that may cause someone to hallucinate – see, hear, feel, or taste something that isn’t there. Their brain is distorting or misinterpreting the senses. And even if it’s not real, the hallucination is very real to the person experiencing it.
Anticholinergic medications, benzodiazepines, and narcotics in high doses are common causes of drug induced delirium.
People can experience hallucinations when they’re high on illegal drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, LSD or ecstasy. They can also occur during withdrawal from alcohol or drugs if you suddenly stop taking them. Drug-induced hallucinations are usually visual, but they may affect other senses.
There are many causes of hallucinations, including: Being drunk or high, or coming down from such drugs like marijuana, LSD, cocaine (including crack), PCP, amphetamines, heroin, ketamine, and alcohol. Delirium or dementia (visual hallucinations are most common)
Metoprolol, a widely used beta-blocker, has been associated with visual hallucinations and CNS disturbances. Multiple reasons may lead to under-recognition and under-reporting of this adverse drug effect, by both patients and physicians alike.
Dementia is the most common cause of visual hallucinations in older adults,10 and they can occur with dementia of any etiology. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, and approximately 18% of patients with Alzheimer’s disease experience visual hallucinations.
Hallucinations, delusions and paranoia are symptoms of disease and not a normal part of aging. While they may seem similar, they are actually very different. Hallucinations are false sensory experiences that can be visual, auditory and/or tactile.
Examples of medicines sometimes used to treat hallucinations, paranoia, and severe agitation in people who have dementia include aripiprazole, haloperidol, and risperidone.
The study found that people had a higher risk for dementia if they took:
Several medications or combinations of drugs can trigger delirium, including some types of:
The three subtypes of delirium are hyperactive, hypoactive, and mixed. Patients with the hyperactive subtype may be agitated, disoriented, and delusional, and may experience hallucinations. This presentation can be confused with that of schizophrenia, agitated dementia, or a psychotic disorder.
Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches, lethargy and hallucinations. In extreme cases, dehydration may result in death.
Types of hallucinations
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Nuplazid (pimavanserin) tablets, the first drug approved to treat hallucinations and delusions associated with psychosis experienced by some people with Parkinson’s disease.