Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological ailment where memory and cognitive abilities deteriorate due to the death of brain cells. Although there is no treatment at the moment, there are methods for supporting a person through medication and other techniques.
It accounts for between 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases in the US, making it the most prevalent type of dementia.
Around 5 million people are affected with Alzheimer’s disease. Estimates indicate that by 2060, this number will almost triple, according to a reliable source in the U.S.
Only 10% of instances occur in those under the age of 65, with the ailment typically affecting those 65 and older.
An overview of Alzheimer’s disease is given in this article, along with information on its signs, causes, and potential treatments.
What is disease Alzheimer’s?
The condition Alzheimer’s disease has an effect on the brain. At first, the symptoms are moderate; nevertheless, as time passes, they worsen. It bears Dr. Alois Alzheimer’s name because he originally identified the illness in 1906Trusted Source.
Alzheimer’s disease is frequently characterized by memory loss, linguistic difficulties, and impulsive or unpredictable behavior.
The presence of plaques and tangles in the brain is one of the condition’s key characteristics. Loss of neural connections between brain neurons is another characteristic.
These characteristics make it difficult for information to move freely inside the brain or between the brain and the muscles or organs.
People have more difficulty reasoning, remembering recent events, and recognizing familiar faces as the symptoms progress. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may eventually require full-time help.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth most common cause of death in the US, according to the National Institute on Aging. Other recent estimates, however, indicate that it might rank third in terms of leading causes of death, behind cancer and heart disease.
The signs of Alzheimer’s disease worsen over time because it is a progressive condition. One of the main characteristics is memory loss, which often manifests as one of the initial symptoms.
Over months or years, the symptoms gradually start to show up. A person may need medical treatment if they persist for several hours or days as this could be a sign of a stroke.
Alzheimer’s disease signs and symptoms include:
Memory loss: A person may have trouble recalling things and absorbing new information. This may result in:
recurring inquiries or dialogue
not remembering appointments or events
wandering or being disoriented
Deficits in cognition: A person may struggle to reason, complete complicated tasks, or make decisions. This may result in:
a diminished awareness of dangers and risks
having financial or payment issues
trouble finishing multiple-stage chores, such getting dressed
Recognition issues: A person may lose the ability to utilize simple tools or recognize faces or objects. These problems are not the result of vision issues.
Spatial awareness issues might cause a person to lose their balance, trip over items more frequently, spill things, or have trouble dressing by aligning garments to their body.
Speaking, reading, or writing issues: A person may experience trouble remembering familiar terms, or they may commit more mistakes in their speech, spelling, or writing.
Changes in personality or behavior: A person may go through the following changes in personality or behavior:
becoming more likely than previously to get irritated, furious, or worried
a decline in drive or interest for activities they often find enjoyable
a decline in empathy
compulsions, obsessions, or inappropriate social behavior
According to studies published in 2016 on the topic, a person’s sense of humor may shift as an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mild to severe Alzheimer’s disease can exist. The scale goes from mild to moderate to severe cognitive decline, with mild impairment being the starting point.
The stages of Alzheimer’s and some of their defining symptoms are covered in the sections that follow.
A mild case of Alzheimer’s
Memory issues and cognitive challenges may occur in people with moderate Alzheimer’s disease and include the following:
doing everyday activities more slowly than normal
having trouble managing money or paying bills
wandering and becoming disoriented
changing their demeanor and behavior, such as pacing, hiding items, or being more easily angered or disturbed
Alzheimer’s disease in a mild form
The areas of the brain in charge of language, sensations, logic, and consciousness are harmed in moderate Alzheimer’s disease. These signs may result from this:
more confusion and memory loss
having trouble identifying friends or family
uninterested in learning new stuff
trouble carrying out multiple-stage chores, such getting dressed
difficulties adjusting to new circumstances
delusions, paranoia, or hallucinations
A severe case of Alzheimer’s
Plaques and tangles spread throughout the brain in advanced Alzheimer’s disease, significantly shrinking the brain tissue. This may result in:
a lack of communication
reliance on others to provide care
not being able to get out of bed at all or very often
Alzheimer’s disease with a young onset
Alzheimer’s disease affects people of all ages, even though age is the primary risk factor for the condition.
Around 200,000 American adults under the age of 65 are affected by early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This illness affects a lot of people in their 40s or 50s.
Many times, medical professionals are baffled as to why this ailment strikes young people. The disease may be caused by a number of uncommon genes. Familial Alzheimer’s disease refers to cases of the illness that have a genetic basis.
Discover more about Alzheimer’s with early onset here.comparing dementias other than Alzheimer’s disease
A variety of illnesses that involve a decline in cognitive function fall under the general term “dementia.”
As far as dementia goes, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent. Plaques and tangles are formed in the brain as a result. The most common symptoms include a deterioration in language and cognitive function that start off gradually.
Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and Huntington’s disease are additional forms of dementia. There are various dementias that a person can have.
A person must have memory loss, cognitive decline, or behavioral changes that interfere with everyday functioning in order to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia symptoms may be picked up on by loved ones and friends before the individual themselves.
Alzheimer’s disease cannot be diagnosed with a single test. A doctor will inquire about the patient’s symptoms, past experiences, and medical history if they have any reason to suspect the existence of the ailment.
The following tests may also be performed by the physician:
Cognitive and memory tests are used to evaluate a person’s thinking and memory skills.
tests of neurological function that assess a person’s reflexes, perceptions, and balance
pee or blood tests
a brain scan using MRI or CT technology
There are numerous evaluation techniques available to evaluate cognitive function.
Given that dementia symptoms may be connected to inherited diseases like Huntington’s disease, genetic testing may occasionally be necessary.
There is a link between some APOE e4 gene variants and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Early genetic testing could reveal a person’s likelihood of having or developing the illness. The exam is debatable, and the outcomes are not fully trustworthy.
Alzheimer’s disease currently has no known treatment. Brain cells cannot be revived after they have died.
However, treatments can ease its symptoms and enhance both the patient’s and their family’s and carers’ quality of life.
These are crucial components of dementia care:
management of any comorbid illnesses that may exist in conjunction with Alzheimer’s
programs for daycare and activities
participation of support services and groups
The sections that follow will go through behavioral change drugs and treatments.
drugs to treat cognitive symptoms
Alzheimer’s disease does not have any disease-modifying medications; nevertheless, certain choices may help to lessen symptoms and enhance quality of life.
Cholinesterase inhibitors are medications that can help with cognitive symptoms like memory loss, disorientation, distorted thought processes, and poor judgment. They enhance brain-wide neuronal transmission and mitigate the progression of these symptoms.
The following three medications are frequently used to treat these Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and have FDA approval:
treated with donepezil (Aricept), at all stages
mild-to-moderate phases with galantamine (Razadyne)
Mild-to-moderate phases can be treated with rivastigmine (Exelon).
Memantine (Namenda), a different medication, is approved to treat moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease. Memantine and donepezil are frequently offered together as Namzaric.
Treatments for behavior and emotions
It can be difficult to control the behavioral and emotional changes brought on by Alzheimer’s disease. Increasingly, people may struggle with irritation, anxiety, sadness, restlessness, sleep issues, and other issues.
It may be beneficial to address the root reasons of these changes. Some might be adverse drug reactions, pain from other medical illnesses, or hearing or vision issues.
People can cope with the changes by identifying the items that caused these behaviors, avoiding them, or changing them. Changes in surroundings, meeting new caretakers, or being asked to take a bath or put on new clothes are examples of triggers.
Changing the surroundings can frequently remove obstacles and improve the person’s comfort, security, and peace of mind.
A list of practical coping strategies is provided by the Alzheimer’s Association for carers.
A doctor could occasionally prescribe one of the following drugs to treat these symptoms:
medications to lift your spirits
antipsychotic medications for violence, delusions, or hallucinations
Visit our specialized area to learn more about evidence-based resources and information about Alzheimer’s & dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease arises from the loss of brain cells, as with all dementias. Because it is a neurodegenerative condition, the loss of the brain cells takes place gradually.
When a person develops Alzheimer’s disease, their brain tissue loses nerve cells and connections one by one, and small deposits called plaques and tangles accumulate on the nerve tissue.
Between the aging brain cells, plaques form. They are created from the beta-amyloid protein. In the meantime, the tangles develop inside the nerve cells. They are created from tau, a different protein.
The reasons for these alterations are not entirely understood by researchers. Multiple things might be at play.
A visual explanation of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease has been created by the Alzheimer’s Association.