Dementia | Causes, Test and Treatments
Are you thinking about the causes of dementia or memory loss? There seem to be numerous causes of memory loss, a medical problem whose symptoms are memory loss and inability to complete daily tasks, but the two leading ones are
- Vascular dementia and
- Alzheimer’s disease
Both disorders destroy the brain cells and thus create havoc (impair) normal brain functions.
Causes for Dementia
Of the two, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause. On the average, people who are at least 65 years old and have dementia are most likely to be inflicted with Alzheimer’s.
The disease degrades brain functions gradually and therefore also affects overall health. It starts with recent memory loss, followed by deterioration of brain functions in multiple areas and then followed by death.
Take note that the disorder might not occur suddenly. The whole progression might take years and symptoms only show towards the tail end.
At present, medical science does not have the antidote for Alzheimer’s disease but they do have medication which slows the progress of the conditions which might arise.
In vascular dementia, blood flow to the brain is blocked somewhat. Without a good supply of blood, brain cells die off gradually because of insufficient nutrients and oxygen.
But between Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, the latter only happens in about 20 percent of the cases of memory loss. The most common cause of vascular dementia is a stroke but heart diseases and high blood pressure could have a hand in it too.
But whatever memory loss one might have, it is necessary to see a doctor to seek treatment. This is because although Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are leading causes of memory loss, they are not the only causes. Don’t forget this.
For all you know, the memory loss you have been experiencing lately may be due to mental illness like stress, anxiety, depression etc. or deficiency in some minerals or vitamins only. That is why it is very important to see your primary care physician to determine the exact causes of memory loss or the dementia-like symptoms you are experiencing.
Tests For Dementia
Tests for dementia typically cover neurological, physical examinations and laboratory tests. In general, memory loss, which thwarts the brain’s normal functions, is quite similar to neurological disorders in terms of symptoms.
When someone is suspected of having this medical problem, the tests for dementia which the doctor will perform include family history (lots of questions and answers will be needed), stroke, alcohol consumption or drug abuse. Based on the standards as laid down by the American Psychiatric Association, an individual is said to have when he/she experiences:
(a) memory loss
(b) inability to coordinate speech
(c) lost of motor activity skills and
(d) cannot think rationally
Dementia tests should be performed by experts in this field. Otherwise, the diagnosis might be inaccurate. For instance, the doctor might diagnose it to be delirium. The symptoms are quite similar but in general, delirium is characterized by mental/cognitive disturbances, thoughts which are disorganized, and poor attentive skills to what’s happening to their surroundings.
The critical reason for accurate diagnosis is that treatment for both diseases are different. The same goes for Alzheimer or Hydrocephalus, for instance.
When doctors perform tests for memory loss, besides getting the diagnosis correct, what they are trying to get at is the root cause of this problem so that proper treatment could be prescribed.
A blood test is often required because the results could help the doctor rule out the possibility that the person is suffering from other forms of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. The tests results would also enable them to see whether there’s the deficiency in the following:
- B12 vitamin
- liver problems
- blood glucose
- drug toxicity
- lumbar disorder and
- sexually-transmitted diseases
Elaborate tests for dementia also include diagnosing:
- DNA samples were taken from the blood
- EEG ( Electroencephalography )
- MRI scan and CT scan to detect any physical or structural changes to the brain.
Treatment for Dementia
After a person is diagnosed with dementia, the next step is to discuss the treatment to ensure their wellbeing and health.
This problem normally hits elderly people and you can see memory loss symptoms such as:
- low attention span
- very poor language and solving problems function and
- a high level of amnesia within six months
- Sometimes, memory loss existed due to a complication of disease and not a disease itself
That way, treatment for dementia patients is based on the cause. There are a few factors that can lead to the development of memory loss symptoms. Some can be solved with drugs while many can just be managed with drugs and even psychiatry care to prevent more cell death.
Psychotherapy or Counseling Treatment for Dementia:
At first, I want to mention psychotherapy or counseling. As a human being, we keep various important or less important things in our head. Sometimes we may feel sad, guilty, helpless, loneliness, anxious, stress. If this type of mental illness goes for a long time it might cause memory loss. Proper meditation, breathing exercise, yoga training, with Psychotherapy or counseling can explore your inner cause of this illness to overcome memory loss.
Drug Treatment for Dementia:
To treat dementia caused by gene-related terms such as Alzheimer’s illness, Niemann-Pick’s disease and Huntington’s, doctors use antidepressants, cholinesterase inhibitors, and other medicines. You should get this illness treated on time as they are neuron-degenerative, meaning that it will worsen at a fast pace. This means the dementia stages of deterioration can sometimes be quite pronounced.
Medication to prevent stroke and heart failure from happening will be supplied by doctors to treat vascular dementia so that it will reduce the progress of memory loss. Keep in mind that these medications will not cure a person who already has dementia but will stop any harm in the brain.
On the other hand, drug tablets are prescribed to treat dementedness caused by cobalamin deficiency. An operation can be done if dementedness is caused by brain tumors. It’s done by exercising and pressuring the tumor from the area of the brain which causes this illness.
Drugs are given to the patient to boost their immune system as the treatment for dementia caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The patient becomes less inclined to illness during dementia treatment which might influence the re-occurrence of this illness.
Hormone treatment for Dementia
Correctable or underlying conditions such as Glandular disease can be treated with drugs containing thyroid hormone or thyroxin. The treatments of dementia caused by brain infections involve using corticosteroids, antibacterial or antiviral drugs to stop more inflammation of the brain tissue. Patient with memory loss caused by depression will be given anti-depressant.
Care plan for dementia
At last, the best dementia treatment care plan is given to patients with irreversible causes. This is so that they can live comfortably without causing any behavioral disturbances to the family. They can improve their learning abilities by using paper tags and mnemonics.
At last, If you are a caregiver or a family member to dementia patient, you will be given instruction and education on how to care for that patient. You would have to bring the patient for checkups and give medications regularly to the patient as it will make it easier for you to care for him or her.