A chronic neurodegenerative disorder, Alzheimer’s disease is basically a form of dementia. Dementia, in a broader sense, includes everything that negatively impacts one’s memory and thinking abilities. It may be an outcome of a brain injury or any other underlying condition of the brain.
A lot of people think that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the same which isn’t quite true. While dementia is a syndrome caused by conditions like vascular diseases, stroke, depression etc., Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the death of the brain’s cells. It progresses with time, resulting in bad memory and impairment of cognitive function. In nutshell, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common types of dementia, affecting around 50 million people worldwide.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s diseases are mild in the beginning but worsen with time. They include:
- memory loss
- trouble with making decisions
- speech or writing abilities getting hampered
- impaired cognitive function
- sudden mood changes
- lack of personal hygiene
- personality changes
- social withdrawal
- behavioural changes
- inability to plan complex tasks
- Impaired visual-spatial abilities
Some fast facts about Alzheimer’s disease:
- Alzheimer’s disease goes beyond mere forgetfulness. It hampers essential bodily functions like movement.
- If it gets diagnosed during the earlier stages, symptoms may improve eventually.
- Anyone can develop Alzheimer’s disease. However, the risk increases with age. For instance, people who are 65 years or above are at higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
- There is no permanent cure available for Alzheimer’s disease. However, treatment in one of the best neuro hospitals in India such as Care Hospitals is recommended as it can eventually improve the symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease: Risk Factors
Some of the most common risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Family history
If you have one or more of these risk factors, you may develop Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, having any of the aforementioned automatically increases your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
In case, you are undergoing treatment for certain neurological condition (especially neurosurgery) besides Alzheimer’s disease at one of the neurosurgery hospitals in India, make sure that the surgical instruments used in your treatment are not contaminated with a protein that’s not healthy for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease: Stages
There are seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease which are briefly discussed below. Have a look:
- Zero-symptom stage. The only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at this stage is by confirming the family history.
- Forgetfulness enhances.
- Decreased memory and concentration. These symptoms are generally mild.
- Memory loss and trouble performing daily activities. The disease can be clearly diagnosed at this stage
- All the aforementioned symptoms start becoming worse.
- Difficulty performing basic tasks like eating and moving without external help.
- Impaired speech along with facial expressions.
Alzheimer’s disease: Diagnosis
There are no fixed tests available to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. However, certain diagnostic tests are performed by the doctors to determine the stage of the disease. They include:
- Mental status tests
- Physical examinations : Blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature
- Neurological tests to check reflexes and speech
- Imaging studies : Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Computed tomography (CT) scan, Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
- Blood tests
Alzheimer’s disease: Prevention
Since there is no cure available for Alzheimer’s disease, it’s best to prevent it. On the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day 2019 (21st September), let’s pledge to promote healthy lifestyle habits which include:
- Eating proper
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising on a regular basis
- Maintaining a social life
It is best to consult your doctor before you make any bigger lifestyle change.