Dementia – Overview, Symptoms & Causes

dementiaDementia doesn’t refer to any particular disease. Instead it refers to a group of symptoms that affects thinking, memory and social abilities which are severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Generally dementia involves memory loss. But there are different causes for memory loss. So if you experience only memory loss, it doesn’t mean you have this condition. In older adults, the most common cause of progressive dementia is the Alzheimer’s disease. But there are also other causes for this condition. Some symptoms of this condition may be reversed depending on their causes.

Dementia Symptoms

Symptoms differ depending on the cause. Some of the common signs & symptoms are as follows:

Changes in Cognitive Ability

  • Confusion & disorientation
  • Difficulty reasoning
  • Memory loss
  • Problem with planning & organizing
  • Difficulty in handling complex tasks
  • Problem communicating
  • Difficulty with motor functions & coordination

Psychological changes

  • Depression
  • Changes in personality
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Inappropriate behavior

Consult a doctor immediately if you or your loved one has problems with memory or any other symptoms. It is important to determine the cause as some curable medical conditions can also lead to dementia symptoms.

Dementia Causes

This condition involves damage of the nerve cells in the brain. This damage can occur in several parts of the brain. Depending on the part of the brain affected, this condition affects people differently. We can group this condition based on the common symptoms and causes. For instance what part of the brain has been affected or whether they can become worse over time. Some dementias might improve with treatment that occur due to reaction to medications or vitamin deficiencies.

Progressive Type

Below are the progressive types which are not reversible as well:

Alzheimer’s disease – It is the most common condition in people of age 65 and above. Doctor’s don’t have a clear idea of what causes this condition.¬† People with this condition¬† are often found to have tangles and plaques. Certain genetic factors can also contribute to Alzheimer’s in some people.

Vascular Dementia – This occurs due to damage to the blood vessels that supply to brain. Stroke or other blood vessel disease may cause blood vessel problems.

Lewy Bodies – These are nothing but abnormal clumps of protein which occur in the brains of people with Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common progressive type.

Fronto-temporal type – This type refers to a group of diseases that causes breakdown of nerve cells in the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain. These areas are generally associated with behavior, language and personality. The exact cause is not known.

Mixed Dementia – An autopsy of brains of older people of age 80 and above indicate that most had a combination of Lewy bodies, vascular and Alzheimer’s disease. In order to know the effects of mixed dementia on symptoms and treatments, studies are still ongoing.

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