Dementia refers to a syndrome (a group of symptoms) which affects a person's intellectual and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning. Different types of dementia exist, depending on the cause. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type. It is NOT a a normal part of aging.
Medication and other treatments can improve many symptoms of dementia and the quality of life of the patient and family.
Dementia has many causes. It's not always caused by the same disease.
Progressive dementia: These are dementias that get worse with time. There are several types of progressive dementia.
Vascular dementia. In general, vascular dementia is more common with age. It is a result of damage to the brain caused by "mini stokes" (lacunar infarcts) that destroy small parts of the brain. It occurs due to interference with blood supply to the brain. The symptoms may be similar to Alzheimer or Lewy body dementia but occur suddenly and progress in a "step ladder" pattern, with sudden onset of a group of symptoms, a period (sometimes months) with no worsening, and then sudden onset of another group of symptoms with worsening of the condition. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or previous strokes or heart attacks are at risk of developing this disorder.
Dementia can occur due to various disorders or deficiencies that can be treated. In such cases the symptoms of dementia disappear with treatment of thy underlying cause.or dementia-like symptoms can be reversed.
Six drugs have been approved for treating the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer's disease / Dementia. Four act in different ways to delay the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical in the brain that facilitates communication among nerve cells and is important for memory. Alzheimer's disease is associated with inadequate levels of this important neurotransmitter. One acts by a different mechanism. It shields brain cells from overexposure to another neurotransmitter called glutamate, excess levels of which contribute to the death of brain cells in people with Alzheimer's. The sixth is an improves acetylcholine production boosting brain metabolism. They all improve mental function memory.
In general, medication is most effective when treatment is begun in the early stages. All medication slows the progression of cognitive symptoms and reduce problematic behaviors in some people. While the overall "treatment effect" of these medications is modest, studies show that when they do work, they can make a significant difference in a person's quality of life and day-to-day functioning ("activities of daily living").
Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include
Signs and symptoms of fronto-temporal dementiainvolve extreme changes in behavior and personality, including:
Signs and symptoms of Lewy body dementiamay include:
Movement-related signs and symptoms may include:
Risk factors that can't be changed
Risk factors that can be changed:
How can you find out that there is damage to brain cells?
Dementias change brain structure over time which can be seen with a brain scan. Several types of scans are used.
A variety of lab tests can help rule out conditions that can cause dementia.
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