Neurosciences | Posted on 03/23/2020 by RBH
Alzheimer’s is a progressive mental condition in which the brain cells degenerate and die. This causes the person to forget events and conversations, even the most recent ones. While in the later stages of the disease, a person might develop critical memory loss and even become severely unfit to carry out everyday tasks. The disease causes a neurological disorder which is the primary cause of memory and cognitive decline.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which results in a continuous decline of the thought process, as well as social and behavioral skills of a person. It is a neurodegenerative disease, which might have mild symptoms in the beginning but goes on to become severely intense over time. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s; however, certain medications and treatments can help reduce and manage symptoms or even slow down the declining memory and cognitive loss. That said, with increasing age and advancing stages of the disease, the person can suffer from complete loss of brain function such as dehydration, malnutrition, and even infection, which could ultimately cause death.
As mentioned, during the initial stages, a person might not experience any symptoms of the disease. However, as the condition progresses it causes memory loss even of the most recent of events and conversations. This is the primary symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. These memory impairments worsen with time and even cause cognitive loss-making a person completely unable to even carry out the most basic of everyday tasks.
Some of the most obvious symptoms of Alzheimer’s condition include:
Decreased ability of a person to grasp and remember new information, causing events such as:
Impaired reasoning, complex tasking and judgment skills, such as:
Reduced visuospatial abilities, which are not typically caused due to vision issues; can include:
Impaired speech, as well as reading and writing skills, such as:
Noticeable changes in personality and behavior, such as:
The number of these symptoms and the severity of the condition will confirm dementia, which will further be assessed based on the below two factors to confirm Alzheimer’s:
If symptoms tend to intensify within a few days or hours, immediate medical help should be sought since the condition can also indicate an acute illness.
Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease; it can be classified in term of stages, depending on the condition of the patient. These three stages include:
There is no single or particular test that can determine if a person has Alzheimer’s disease. However, the doctors study the symptoms and the physical condition of the patient, as well as evaluate the medical history to make a diagnosis.
An assessment of the person’s neurological function is also made through a test of the balancing skills and senses plus reflexes. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor also conducts blood or urine test, along with an MRI or CT scan of the brain to check for any signs of depression, which can be a trigger of the condition.
In the end, the doctor will conduct tricky cognitive and memory tests to assess the person’s ability to think, remember and respond.
There is no definitive or single cause for Alzheimer’s condition. However, a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors affect the brain over time. These changes cause a neurodegenerative issue in the brain, leading to the death of brain cells over a period of time. Thus, in a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, there are fewer nerve cells and connections.
Even though the exact cause of the disease is not understood, it is associated with the failure of brain proteins (namely plaques and tangles) to function normally. These hamper the working of brain cells, causing a series of events that are toxic in nature such as damaged neurons, lost connections, and death.
The damage primarily begins at the part of the brain which controls memory. The symptoms come much later, even though the process begins quite in advance. The loss of neurons over time spreads to other parts of the brain, which eventually shrinks the brain in size significantly at the advanced stages.
That said, some factors make certain people more prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease than others. These include:
Even though not curable, the condition can be prevented provided appropriate medical consultation is sought and proper lifestyle and diet measures are followed. On the other hand, medications can effectively reduce the severity of symptoms and help manage a decent quality of life.