Dementia Signs & Symptoms, Risk, Common Types And Treatment: Dementia is a syndrome that typically has a chronic or progressive nature and causes a decline in cognitive function (i.e., the capacity for thought processing) beyond what may be anticipated from the typical effects of biological ageing.
It has an impact on memory, cognition, orientation, comprehension, computation, learning ability, language, and judgement. No changes are made to consciousness. Changes in mood, emotional regulation, behaviour, or motivation frequently precede and sometimes accompany the decrease in cognitive function.
Alzheimer’s disease and stroke are only two examples of the numerous illnesses and injuries that can cause dementia. One of the main causes of disability and dependency among older people globally, dementia is currently the seventh highest cause of death among all diseases.
Dementia affects a person’s physical, psychological, social, and economic well-being as well as that of their family members, carers, and society at large. Dementia is frequently not well known or understood, which leads to stigmatisation and obstacles to treatment and diagnosis.
The brain’s nerve cells and connections suffer harm or are lost in dementia. Dementia can affect people differently and result in various symptoms depending on the part of the brain that is affected.
Commonalities among dementias, such as the protein or proteins deposited in the brain or the area of the brain affected, are frequently used to categorise them. Some illnesses, such those brought on by drug interactions or vitamin shortages, have the appearance of dementia and may respond favourably to therapy.
Dementia Risk Factors
NON MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS:-
- Age:- As you get older, particularly beyond age 65, the risk increases. Dementia, however, can strike younger people and is not always a sign of age.
- History of the family:- You run a higher risk of getting dementia if someone in your family has the illness. However, many people with a family history never experience symptoms, while many people without a family history do. There are tests to find out if you have specific genetic mutations.
- Down syndrome:- Many persons with Down syndrome get early-onset Alzheimer’s disease by the time they reach middle age.
MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS:-
- Activity and Diet:- According to studies, dementia risk is increased by inactivity. And while there isn’t a single diet that has been proven to lower the risk of developing dementia, research shows that people who eat poorly have a higher incidence of the disease than those who consume a diet similar to that of the Mediterranean, which is high in fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Alcoholism in excess. It has long been known that heavy alcohol consumption alters the brain. Alcohol use disorders have been associated to an elevated risk of dementia, especially early-onset dementia, according to a number of sizable research and reviews.
- Risks for cardiovascular disease. These include obesity, excessive cholesterol, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and atherosclerotic plaque development.
- Depression:- Late-life depression may signal the onset of dementia, though this is still poorly understood.
- Diabetes:- Dementia risk may be increased by diabetes, particularly if the condition is poorly managed.
- Smoking:- Smoking may raise your chances of dementia and blood vessel conditions.
- Air Contaminants:- According to studies done on animals, air pollution particulates can hasten the deterioration of the neurological system. Additionally, studies on people have shown that exposure to air pollution, notably from vehicle exhaust and wood burning, is linked to an increased risk of dementia.
- Sleep Disruptions:- Dementia may be more likely to develop in those who have sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
- Deficits in Vitamins and Nutrients:- Your risk of dementia can increase if you have low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folate.
- Medication that can make memory worse. Avoid taking over-the-counter sleeping pills containing diphenhydramine (Advil PM, Aleve PM), as well as oxybutynin, which is used to alleviate urine urgency (Ditropan XL).
- Limit your use of sedatives and sleeping pills, and discuss with your physician whether any of the medications you take could impair your memory.
Signs And Symptoms of Dementia
Depending on the type, the indications and symptoms may include:
- Having perplexity, bad judgement, and memory loss
- difficulty reading, writing, interpreting, or expressing one’s thoughts
- Wandering aimlessly and being disoriented in a familiar setting
- difficulty managing finances appropriately and paying bills
- repetition of inquiries
- Using strange phrases to refer to something that are familiar
- Taking more time to finish daily chores
- becoming uninterested in routine activities or occurrences
- Having delusions or paranoia, or hallucinating
- impulsively acting
- disregarding the emotions of others
- Having trouble moving and losing balance
Types Of Dementia
Three categories of dementia exist:
- Primary (diseases and conditions in which dementia is the major illness).
- Secondary (dementia owing to another disease or condition) (dementia due to another disease or condition).
- Symptoms of dementia that are reversible and brought on by other conditions or factors.
- Alzheimer’s illness:- The most frequent reason for dementia is this.
Despite the fact that not all causes of Alzheimer’s disease are understood, specialists are aware of a small fraction that is connected to mutations in three genes that can be handed down from parent to kid. Apolipoprotein E4 is a significant gene that raises risk, even though many genes are likely involved in Alzheimer’s disease (APOE).
Plaques and tangles are present in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Beta-amyloid protein forms plaques while tau protein forms fibrous tangles, which are called tangles. There is speculation that these aggregates harm both healthy neurons and the fibres that link them.
- Vascular dementia:- The blood arteries that feed your brain with oxygen are damaged in this type of dementia. Strokes and other brain disorders can be brought on by blood vessel issues, which can also harm the brain’s white matter fibres.
Vascular dementia is characterised by problems with problem-solving, slower thinking, and lack of focus and order. Compared to memory loss, these are typically more obvious.
- Lewy-body dementia:- People with Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease have aberrant protein clumps called Lewy bodies in their brains. This type of progressive dementia is one of the more prevalent ones.
- Fronto-temporal dementia:- In the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, a number of disorders are distinguished by the degeneration of nerve cells and the connections that link them. Usually, attitude, behaviour, and language are related with these regions. Behavior, personality, thought, judgement, language, and mobility are all impacted by common symptoms.
- Mixed dementia:- Dementia caused by a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia, is frequently multifactorial, according to autopsy examinations of the brains of adults 80 and older who had the condition. Research is still being done to identify how treatment options and symptoms are impacted by mixed dementia.
SECONDARY – DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH DEMENTIA:-
- Huntington’s disease:- This disease results in the degeneration of specific nerve cells in your brain and spinal cord and is brought on by a genetic mutation. Around age 30 or 40 is when most of the signs and symptoms, which include a sharp reduction in cognitive abilities, start to show themselves.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI):- Most frequently, repeated head trauma is what causes this syndrome. The possibility of TBI exists for boxers, football players, and soldiers.
This illness may result in dementia symptoms and indicators such depression, irritability, memory loss, and speech impairment, depending on the area of the brain that is affected. Parkinsonism can result from a TBI. Years after the trauma, symptoms may take time to manifest.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease:- People without recognised risk factors are most commonly affected by this uncommon brain condition. Deposits of infectious proteins known as prions may be the cause of this illness. This deadly illness typically manifests its signs and symptoms after the age of 60.
Although there is usually no known cause for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, it can be inherited. It could also be brought on by contact with damaged brain or nervous system tissue, like that following a cornea transplant.
- Parkinson’s illness:- Parkinson’s disease dementia is a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease in many patients
Conditions Linked With Dementia Which Can Be Reversed
Treatment may be able to address some of the underlying causes of dementia or dementia-like symptoms. Among them are:
- Immune diseases and infections:- Fever or other side effects of your body’s attempt to fight off an illness may cause symptoms that resemble dementia. Dementia can also be brought on by multiple sclerosis and other illnesses in which the immune system of the body attacks nerve cells.
- Imbalances in the endocrine system and metabolism:- People who have thyroid issues, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), too little or too much sodium or calcium, or a problem absorbing vitamin B-12, may experience personality changes or symptoms resembling dementia.
- Vitamin And Mineral Deficits:- Dementia-like symptoms can be brought on by deficiencies in vitamins B-6 and B-12, as well as deficiencies in thiamin (vitamin B-1), which are frequently present in chronic alcoholics.
- Adverse Effects Of Medication:- Dementia-like symptoms can be brought on by drug interactions, drug side effects, or a reaction to a drug.
- Subdural hematomas:- As a result of a fall, elderly people frequently experience bleeding between the surface of the brain and the covering over it, which might mimic dementia symptoms.
- Brain tumours:- An extremely rare complication of brain tumour damage is dementia.
- Normobaric hydrocephalus:- Memory loss, urinary trouble, and walking issues can all be symptoms of this disorder, which is brought on by enlarging brain ventricles.
Dementia treatment is based on the underlying reason. The symptoms of neurodegenerative dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease, can be managed with medicine, but there is no known cure for these conditions. Research is still being done to create more therapeutic choices.
A healthy lifestyle reduces the likelihood of developing chronic diseases and may lower the number of people who have dementia. This includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining social connections.
There are things you may take that might assist, but there is no surefire method to stop dementia. Although more study is required, it might be advantageous to take the following actions:
- Maintain mental activity:- Memory training, puzzle solving, word games, and other mentally engaging pursuits may help delay the onset of dementia and lessen its consequences.
- Exercise and engage in social activities:- The onset of dementia and its symptoms may be delayed and lessened by physical activity and social engagement. Set a weekly exercise goal of 150 minutes.
- Stop smoking:- According to several studies, smoking after middle age may increase your risk of dementia and blood vessel problems. Quitting smoking will enhance your health and potentially lower your risk.
- cure physical ailments:- For help with sadness or anxiety, visit your doctor.
- Continue to eat healthfully:- The Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are often present in some fish and nuts, may boost health and reduce the risk of dementia. This kind of eating regimen also enhances cardiovascular health, which may help reduce the incidence of dementia.
- Try to get good sleep:- If you snore loudly, occasionally stop breathing while you sleep, or gasp for air, practise excellent sleep hygiene and consult your doctor.
- Take care of hearing issues:- Cognitive decline is more likely to occur in hearing-impaired people. Early management of hearing loss, including the use of hearing aids, may help lower the risk.
- Consume adequate vitamins:- According to some research, people who have low amounts of vitamin D in their blood are more prone to acquire dementia and various types of Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin D can be obtained via a variety of foods, supplements, and sun exposure.
- The control of cardiovascular risk factors:- Treat diabetes, excessive cholesterol, and hypertension. If you are overweight, shed some pounds. Some forms of dementia may be more likely to develop in people with high blood pressure. The possibility that controlling high blood pressure may lessen the risk of dementia requires further study.