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Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease | Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What Is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer is a type of brain disease that gradually damages memory and cognitive skills, as well as the capacity to do the most basic activities. Most people with the condition — those with late-onset symptoms — have symptoms in their mid-60s. Early onset is rare and occurs between the ages of 30 and 60. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people.

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s usually begin with mild forgetfulness, such as misplacing items or forgetting appointments. As the disease progresses, individuals may experience difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion, and disorientation. 

They need help recognizing family members and friends or remembering common words and phrases. Changes in mood and behaviour, including anxiety, depression, and agitation, are also common in Alzheimer’s patients. In the late stages of dementia, individuals may require assistance with basic activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.

What Are the Causes?

Alzheimer causes brain cells to degrade, lose connections, and ultimately die. These changes are linked to the accumulation of abnormal proteins, which create “plaques” and “tangles” surrounding brain cells. It is uncertain whether plaques and tangles cause Alzheimer or are a byproduct of the disease process.

Researchers think that a combination of lifestyle, environmental, and genetic risk factors start the abnormal biochemical process in the brain that leads to dementia over time. Several risk factors for developing the condition have been identified:

  • Increasing age
  • Family history – a person who has a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s is more likely to develop the disease
  • Down syndrome
  • History of a head injury
  • Risk factors for blood vessel disease, such as smoking
  • Lack of regular exercise

What Is the Diagnosis?

There is not a single test that can be used to diagnose Alzheimer. With roughly 95% accuracy, specialists can rule out other similar diseases and diagnose Alzheimer. Autopsies are the only way to confirm the condition.

Examining and evaluating the patient is essential in identifying whether a curable illness causes dementia. Diagnostic techniques for Alzheimer may involve, in addition to a thorough medical history and rigorous neurological motor and sensory examination, the following:

  • Mental status test
  • Neuropsychological testing
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan)
  • Genetic testing
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

What Is the Treatment?

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s. As nerve cells in the brain are injured and can no longer function correctly, the condition worsens, and there is no way to stop this degradation.

Physical activity and social interaction are crucial in Alzheimer management, as are good diet, health maintenance, and a peaceful and well-structured environment. Medications can occasionally improve cognitive and behavioural disorders.

Sleeping pills, tranquillizers, and antidepressants may help reduce symptoms such as aggression, agitation, and sleeplessness. On the other hand, sleeping pills and tranquillizers could cause more significant confusion and should be used with caution.

Some patients benefit from a class of drugs known as cholinesterase inhibitors, which enhance mental function (thinking and memory) and daily living abilities. Donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine are cholinesterase inhibitor drugs that are some medications that can also help with dementia.

How To Prevent?

There are no proven techniques for preventing the onset of Alzheimer. However, there is some evidence that a healthy lifestyle might lower the risk of Alzheimer. Regular physical activity and exercise may promote brain health in general and decrease the course of Alzheimer.

Although there are no particular dietary recommendations for Alzheimer’s disease, a “Mediterranean-style” diet (which includes plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, olives, nuts and olive oil, as well as certain cheeses, yoghurt, fish, chicken, and eggs) could decrease the risk of the disease.

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