Alzheimer’s Disease: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
The Alzheimer’s disease was first described by German physician Alois Alzheimer in 1906, after conducting an autopsy on a woman who exhibited unusual mental symptoms during her life.
Moreover, Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, although that the greatest known risk factor is getting old, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older.
Continue reading with us to know all about Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms, main Alzheimer’s disease cause, tests, and treatments.
Alzheimer’s Disease Definition:
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases.
The disease is characterized by the buildup of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, which leads to the loss of brain cells and the eventual decline of mental functions.
Moreover, As the disease progresses, individuals with Alzheimer’s may experience difficulty in performing daily tasks, communicating, and even recognizing familiar faces and objects.
However, although Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be younger-onset Alzheimer’s if it affects a person under 65. Younger-onset can also be referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s Disease Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease differs significantly depending on many factors such as age at diagnosis, overall health, and the presence of other medical conditions.
On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives for about 4-8 years after the beginning of symptoms, but some may survive for 10-20 years or more.
However, it is important to note that life expectancy could be influenced by early diagnosis and accessibility to appropriate healthcare and support services.
Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms:
Understanding symptoms, as early diagnosis and intervention can help improve the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, thus, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be divided based on the three main Alzheimer’s disease stages:
1. Early-Stage Symptoms:
- Difficulty in remembering recent events or conversations.
- Trouble with finding the right words or following a sequence of steps.
- Mild confusion and disorientation.
- Changes in mood or behavior, such as irritability or anxiety.
2. Middle-Stage Symptoms:
- Increased memory loss, including familiar faces and places.
- Difficulty with daily tasks, such as dressing or cooking.
- Greater confusion and disorientation, including time and place.
- Behavioral changes, such as agitation, wandering, or sleep disturbances.
3. Late-Stage Symptoms:
- Severe memory loss, including personal history and the names of family members.
- Inability to communicate effectively or respond to the environment.
- Need for assistance with all daily activities, including eating, dressing, and using the bathroom.
- Vulnerability to infections, such as pneumonia, due to the decline in immune function.
What Are the Main Causes of Alzheimer?
Although Alzheimer’s disease is known as a progressive neurological disorder. However, the exact cause of Alzheimer’s is not yet fully understood, with several identified factors that contribute to its development. These factors can be broadly categorized into:
· Genetic factors:
Alzheimer’s can sometimes run in families, and specific gene mutations have been identified that increase the risk of developing the disease. But, having a family history of Alzheimer’s does not mean that an individual will for sure develop the condition.
· Lifestyle factors:
Some lifestyle choices have been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, including poor diet, lack of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
· Environmental factors:
Exposure to some specific environmental factors, such as head trauma, air pollution, and exposure to heavy metals, has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
4 Commonly Used Alzheimer’s Disease Test:
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging, as its symptoms can mimic those of other neurological conditions.
Therefore, a comprehensive evaluation, which may include a medical history, physical examination, cognitive tests, and brain imaging, is usually required to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Medical history and physical examination:
A healthcare professional will review the patient’s medical history, including any family history of Alzheimer’s disease, and conduct a physical examination to identify any underlying medical conditions that may be causing cognitive decline.
2. Cognitive tests:
A series of cognitive tests, such as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog), are usually used to evaluate the patient’s memory, language skills, and problem-solving abilities.
3. Brain imaging:
Imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans, may be performed to evaluate the structure and function of the brain and rule out other neurological conditions.
4. Blood tests and other diagnostic tests:
Blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), thyroid function tests, and vitamin B12 levels, may be ordered to rule out other potential causes of cognitive decline.
Additionally, lumbar punctures (spinal taps) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans may be performed to detect abnormal protein deposits in the brain, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease:
Till now, there is no real cure for Alzheimer’s disease, rather than several treatment options that can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected.
Two main classes of medications are used to treat Alzheimer’s:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine, work by increasing the levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning.
- Memantine is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist that helps to reduce the excitotoxicity in the brain, which is thought to contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s.
These interventions focus on managing the behavioral and psychological symptoms of Alzheimer’s. They may include:
- Occupational therapy.
- Physical therapy.
- Speech therapy.
- Cognitive stimulation therapy.
Support and care:
Family members and caregivers play a crucial role in supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
As they can ensure a safe and supportive environment, provide emotional support, and assist with daily activities that help improve the overall well-being of the person living with Alzheimer’s.
Clinical trials and research:
Participation in clinical trials and research studies can provide access to new treatments and therapies that may help manage Alzheimer’s symptoms and potentially slow the progression of the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.
Understanding its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options is vital for those living with the condition, their families, and healthcare professionals.
All the medical and research work are making steps in Alzheimer’s disease prevention, treatment, and ultimately, finding a cure. Contact us to any guiding in the world on medical testing.