Dementia Diseases: Ageing is part of life’s process. What makes it worth understanding life consequences and preventive measures? It is all worth it in the end, the least we could offer is to treat our body right and die a good death.
This article articulates about dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering. Reasoning and behavioural abilities lose to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.
These functions include memory, language skills, visual perception, problem-solving, self-management, and the ability to focus and pay attention.
Often cases have some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change.
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 per cent of cases.
Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage.
The person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.
Symptoms of dementia can vary greatly.
- Planning and preparing meals
- Remembering appointments
- Travelling out of the neighbourhood.
- Problems with short-term memory
- Keeping track of a purse or wallet
More symptoms include various disorders and factors contributing to the development of dementia.
- Such a drop in nervous health leads to disorders that result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning.
- Currently, there are no cures for these types of disorders. They include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Frontotemporal disorders
- Lewy body dementia
Other types of progressive brain disease include:
- Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia
- Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia
Other conditions that cause dementia-like symptoms can be halted or even reversed with treatment, as per the severity of the case.
For example, normal pressure hydrocephalus, an abnormal build-up of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, often resolves only with treatment.
In addition, certain medical conditions can cause serious memory problems that resemble dementia. These problems should go away once the conditions are treated.
These conditions include:
- Head injuries, such as a concussion from a fall or accident
- Thyroid, kidney, or liver problems
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Blood clots, tumours, or infections in the brain
- Side effects of certain medicines
- Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression
- Certain vitamin deficiencies
Doctors have identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms.
These conditions include:
- Argyrophilic grain disease, a common, late-onset degenerative disease
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare brain disorder
- Huntington’s disease, an inherited, progressive brain disease
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), caused by repeated traumatic brain injury
- HIV-associated dementia (HAD)
The overlap in symptoms of various dementias can make it really hard to get an accurate diagnosis.
But a proper diagnosis is important to get the right treatment. Seek help from a neurologist foremost—a doctor who specializes in disorders of the brain and nervous system.
A medical assessment for dementia generally includes:
Medical history. Commonly, the questions about a person’s medical and family history might include asking about whether dementia runs in the family? how and when symptoms began? Changes in behaviour and personality traits?
Also, if the person is taking certain medications that might cause or worsen symptoms.
Physical exam. Getting the test such as blood pressure test and other vital signs may help physicians detect conditions that might cause or occur with dementia. Some conditions may be treatable starting at an early stage.
Neurological tests. Assessing balance, sensory response, reflexes, and other cognitive functions help identify conditions that may affect the diagnosis or are treatable with drugs.
What Tests are Used to Diagnose Dementia?
Further off, important procedures may be used to diagnose dementia:
- Cognitive and neuropsychological tests. These tests are used to assess memory, problem-solving, language skills, math skills, and other abilities related to mental functioning.
- Laboratory tests. Testing a person’s blood and other fluids, as well as checking levels of various chemicals, hormones, and vitamins can help find or rule out possible causes of symptoms.
- Brain scans. These tests can identify strokes, tumours, and other problems that can cause dementia. Scans also identify changes in the brain’s structure and function.
The most common scans are:
A technique for displaying a representation of a cross-section through a human body or other solid object using X-rays or ultrasound, tomography.
- Computed tomography (CT), which uses x rays to produce images of the brain and other organs
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of body structures, including tissues, organs, bones, and nerves
- Positron emission tomography (PET), which uses radiation to provide pictures of brain activity
- Psychiatric evaluation. This evaluation will help determine if depression or another mental health condition is causing or contributing to a person’s symptoms.
- Genetic tests. This test is to detect dementia caused by a gene defect. In these cases, a genetic test can help people know if they are at risk for dementia. It is important to talk with a genetic counsellor before and after getting tested, along with family members and the doctor.
Who is the right person to diagnose?
Visiting a family doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behaviour.
However, neurologists—doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system—generally have the expertise needed to diagnose dementia and even Alzheimer’s too.
Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be skilled in diagnosing the condition.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, ask the neurology department of the nearest medical school for a referral.
A hospital affiliated with a medical school may also have dementia or movement disorders clinic that provides expert evaluation.
Treatment of dementia depends on the cause. In the case of most progressive dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, there is no cure and no treatment that slows or stops its progression.
But there are treatments associated with drugs that may temporarily improve symptoms. The same medications used to treat Alzheimer’s are the drugs sometimes prescribed to help deal with symptoms of other types of dementias.
Non-drug therapies can also alleviate some symptoms of dementia.
Research & participation in clinical studies has brought effective new treatments for dementia increased. Unlike other medical studies, more participation is needed to participate in clinical studies and trials about Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Some risk factors for dementia, such as age and genetics, cannot be changed. But researchers continue to explore the impact of other risk factors on brain & nervous health.
Research reported at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.