What is Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Having a health brain is one great thing mankind can ever wish for. Brains are what make us be who we are. We talk, walk, plan and do nearly about everything because of the brain. You are reading this right now because your brain has given you the capabilities to.

But sadly, we sometimes suffer from diseases that can inhibit our cognitive abilities. Examples of such diseases are Dementia and Alzheimer. So you can imagine it, a person with a brain that is not functioning normally would literally be unable to work properly.

Let’s look at the two diseases in detail below.

Dementia

Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term used to refer to diseases that cause brain impairment. It is a collection of different symptoms related to a brain failing to function properly. A person with dementia will show symptoms like inability to think reason or remember things. This is a result of brain neurons that are not working properly or have lost their connections and so they die.

The disease is common in people over the age of 60. But that does not mean dementia is a normal part of aging. There are others who can get old without any sign of the disease. Statistics indicate that over 5 million people in the USA suffer from dementia. It is in fact the 6th leading cause of death and the 5th leading cause of death in people over 60.

For one to have dementia, he or she must show two or more signs to indicate the brain is not working properly. This can include problems in memory, visual perception, language skills, ability to focus and more.

Causes Of Dementia

These are the most known causes of dementia:

  • Huntington’s diseases.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
  • Head injury.
  • HIV.
  • Poisoning.
  • Substance abuse.

Symptoms

Most common symptoms include:

  • Memory loss.
  • Impaired judgment and difficulties with abstract thinking.
  • Faulty reasoning.
  • Inappropriate behavior.
  • Loss of communication skills.
  • Disorientation to time and place.

Treatment

Treating Dementia is not easy. Some dementias are treatable and some are not. Usually the medication will focus on improving* the symptoms. Reversing the damage is difficult. A person suffering from the disease can show improvement for some time only to be attacked by the disease again.

See AlsoWhat are Neurological Disorders?

Preventing Dementia

Research is not very satisfactory on ways we can avoid dementia. But from the little we know, you can minimize your chances of getting the disease by avoiding its risk factors. Here they are:

  • Avoid alcohol abuse
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid diabetes

The other risk factors are quite inevitable; these include things like age and genetics.

Now let’s look at…

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimers Disease

This is another disease that affects the brain. It is the most common form of dementia. Remember that dementia is an umbrella term. Alzheimer make people forget things even loved ones, experience anger, make improper decisions and more.

The disease was first discovered in 1906 by man called Dr Alzheimer. This was after studying a brain of a dead woman who had memory and other mental problems before she died.

The doctor discovered that there were strange formations in the brain. There were abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fiber. These two are now called plaques and tangles respectively. And the only way to discover them is when a person dies.

Causes Of Alzheimer’s

Even though the disease was first discovered more than a century ago, we are yet to find out what really causes it. Researchers have been working on this for years but they are yet to find anything useful. Some scientists claim Alzheimer is caused by genetics. Others suspect lifestyle is to blame.

Symptoms

Most common symptoms include:

  • Finding it difficult to remember things.
  • Inability to do day to day tasks like cooking.
  • Asking same question over and other.
  • Getting lost.
  • Poor judgment.
  • In worst cases, inability to do anything at all.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important that you see a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis can be beneficial.

See AlsoConnection Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Sleep

Treatment

There is no medicine that can completely cure* Alzheimer’s disease. There are however some drugs that can improve* the symptoms. But because it takes long to diagnose, these drugs are not very effective as damage is already done by the time the disease is discovered.

Preventing Alzheimer’s

Since we do not know what causes the disease, saying really how to prevent is kind of absurd. The only thing we can do is to wait for the researchers to finish their job. But I am sure we will know the answer to this mystery soon. There is a lot of effort being given to the disease. Even the government is now more involved than ever.

See AlsoList Of Brain Diseases Everyone Should Know

But looking at the data, Alzheimer’s disease is usually seen in older people. However, scientists believe development starts as early as ten years before we can see any symptoms. By the time the symptoms are evident, much of the damage is already done.

Conclusion

Alzheimer and all other Dementias are very serious diseases. Like we saw in this article, they can destroy a person’s life easily. And it’s not just the person who has the disease who is affected. Even those around are victims. They are the ones who are supposed to provide all the care. In addition, caring for dementias can be costly.

Now with the number of aged people expected to increase*, we can bet the cases of dementias will increase* as well. But all is not lost, with all the research going on, we will soon have a solution for these diseases.

References

  • http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/other-dementias
  • http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dementias/dementia.htm
  • http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/mental-illness/dementia.htm
  • http://nihseniorhealth.gov/alzheimersdisease/whatisalzheimersdisease/01.html
  • http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet
  • http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dementias/detail_dementia.htm

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.