Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is not a single disease; it’s an overall term — like heart disease — that covers a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. Disorders grouped under the general term “dementia” are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes trigger a decline in thinking skills, also known as cognitive abilities, severe enough to impair daily life and independent function. They also affect behaviour, feelings and relationships. Dementia is a decline in cognitive function. To be considered dementia, the mental impairment must affect at least two brain functions. Dementia may affect:
Dementia is not a disease. It may be caused by a variety of illnesses or injuries. Mental impairment may range from mild to severe. It may also cause personality changes. Some dementias are progressive. This means they get worse over time. Some dementias are treatable or even reversible. Some experts restrict the term dementia to irreversible mental deterioration.
Signs of dementia can vary greatly.
- Problems with short-term memory.
- Keeping track of a purse or wallet.
- Paying bills.
- Planning and preparing meals.
- Remembering appointments.
- Travelling out of the neighbourhood.
Many conditions are progressive, which means that the signs of dementia start out slowly and gradually get worse.
Causes of Dementia
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate normally, thinking, behaviour and feelings can be affected. The brain has many distinct regions, each of which is responsible for different functions. When cells in a particular region are damaged, that region cannot carry out its functions normally. Different types of dementia are associated with particular types of brain cell damage in particular regions of the brain.
Symptoms of dementia
Different kinds of dementia can affect people in varying ways. Nonetheless, there are some common symptoms that may be present well before actual dementia diagnosis, including:
- Concentration problems
- Memory loss
- Confusion with everyday tasks such as counting the change when shopping
- Difficulty following a conversation or finding the correct word
- Getting times and places mixed up
- Mood swings
These symptoms are usually mild and often worsen quite slowly, meaning neither you nor your family and friends may notice for some time. When they aren’t severe enough to warrant a dementia diagnosis, they may be classified as ‘mild cognitive impairment’ (MCI). Some people with MCI will not see their symptoms worsen. Others will develop dementia.
Diagnosis of dementia
There is no one test to determine if someone has dementia. Doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia based on a careful medical history, a physical examination, laboratory tests, and the characteristic changes in thinking, day-to-day function and behaviour associated with each type. Early detection of symptoms is important, as some causes can be treated. In many cases, the specific type of dementia a person has may not be confirmed until after the person has died and the brain is examined.
Treatment for Dementia
Treatment of dementia depends on its 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 drug treatments that may temporarily improve symptoms. The same medications used to treat Alzheimer’s are among the drugs sometimes prescribed to help with symptoms of other types of dementias. Non-drug therapies can also alleviate some symptoms of dementia. Ultimately, the path to effective new treatments for dementia is through increased research funding and increased participation in clinical studies.
To know more about the details regarding the disease, contact Medisys Hospital, a growing super speciality hospital in Hyderabad. They aid in improving patients’ health. You will get the best treatment according to your symptoms.