What is Dementia?


Dementia is a term that refers to the loss of memory, problem-solving, language or other sorts of creative or critical thinking. A patient with dementia can lose their memories or thinking ability to a point where doing the simplest of daily tasks can become a real challenge. The most common type of dementia people suffer from is Alzheimer’s disease. People who have Alzheimer can lose up to 80% of their thinking abilities. Keep in mind! dementia is not a single condition it refers to all sorts of conditions that can cause any kind of memory loss.

The loss of thinking in dementia-related conditions is caused by irregular changes in the brain which can trigger the brain functions to behave abnormally. This can affect one’s cognitive skills directly, and they can experience a decline in thinking skills. Dementia does not only affect a person physically, but it can affect their behaviour immensely and can also damage their feelings and relationships.

What Are the Symptoms of Dementia?

The early symptoms of dementia can vary vastly from person to person. The most common symptoms of the condition include:

Subtle Short-Term Memory Loss

For most people, dementia begins with short-term memory loss. When this happens, a person might be able to remember memories of a trip they took a decade ago, but they will have a hard time remembering what they had for breakfast this morning. If a person keeps forgetting where they put their wallet or keys constantly, then it could also be a symptom of dementia.

Trouble Finding the Right Words

If you often stutter during conversations because you have trouble finding the right words for your sentences, then it can also be an early sign of dementia.
Mood Changes

A person who has dementia also experiences mood changes. They might end up losing interest in things they usually love and can fall victim to depression as well.

Other Symptoms

Early signs of dementia also include confusion, having trouble doing simple tasks, repetition and not learning new things easily. If you watch TV shows and cannot keep up with the storylines, it can also be an indication of dementia.

What Causes Dementia?

Different reasons can cause different types of dementia. Some of the causes include:

Neurodegenerative Causes

This is the leading biological cause of dementia as it damages a person’s brain cells and kills neurons. The decay of these dead cells can affect both the mental and physical state of that person in the long run. It is the main cause that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

Cerebrovascular Causes

Vascular or multi-infract dementia are caused because of cerebrovascular issues. A number of heart diseases or hardening of blood vessels can block oxygen supply to the person’s brain, which can result in slow damaging of brain cells.

Toxic and Metabolic Causes

Suppose a person is intoxicating their body regularly or is suffering from metabolic issues. In that case, they are at high risk of succumbing to a dementia condition like Leukodystrophy or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS). The chemical imbalance in a person’s body does not only cause malnutrition or metabolic disorders, but it also affects their memory.

Infectious Causes

Yes! Infections can also cause dementia. Certain types of viruses, parasites and bacteria can damage your neurons and eat your brain cells. Dementia patients who have got the disease from an infectious cause don’t really see any signs until the infection has gotten severe. The types of dementia caused by infections include the memory loss caused by HIV AIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jackob Disease (CJD) and other Prion Diseases.

Traumatic Causes

The TBI, also known as Traumatic Brain Injury, is caused by serious head injuries or concussions. If a person has suffered severe head trauma, they are likely to get this form of dementia.

What are the Best Practices for Diagnosing Dementia?

Dementia is not easy to diagnose, and a doctor will run several tests on you before confirming that you have dementia. The diagnosis will start with general questions like if someone in your family had dementia? Or how long have you been experiencing the symptoms? These days there are plenty of latest technologies out there that can help diagnose dementia in a short time span. Also, there are so many apps like Mojo Dementia that are helping keep better track of dementia patients' health. Now, let’s take a look at how dementia can be diagnosed:

Cognitive Tests

Your doctor will run some cognitive tests on you, which will gauge your thinking, memory, reasoning, counting, and language skills. This will give them a great idea of up to what extent you forget things with the help of just a few simple tests.

Neurological Tests

Next, you will go through some neurological testing in which your reflexes, balance, eye movements and other senses will be tested. They will ask you to touch your nose with your eyes closed or they will tap you with a rubber hammer to see what areas of the body are not responding.

Brain Scans

Your doctor might also take some brain scans if you are experiencing memory loss. This is done to identify a tumour or stroke in the brain that could be causing memory issues. Internal bleeding can also cause dementia, and these scans can also help identify that. You will have to do a CT scan in which the doctor will take plenty of X-rays and then will study them to paint a bigger picture. You will also have to lie down in an MRI machine so that the medical examiners can see whether there is nerve or tissue damage in the brain with the help of radio waves.

Blood Tests

A blood test report can also help identify dementia. It can help medical examiners identify thyroid issues or lack of certain vitamins that can lead to brain damage.

Psychiatric Evaluation

Dementia can also be caused by depression and other mental health conditions. Your doctor will also do a psychiatric evaluation to find out if these conditions are causing the memory loss. They will ask you a series of questions and will determine the results based on your answers.

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