Dementia is the loss of mental functions such as thinking, memory, and reasoning that is severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a group of symptoms that are caused by various diseases or conditions. Symptoms can also include changes in personality, mood, and behavior. In some cases, the dementia can be treated and cured because the cause is treatable.
Dementia develops when the parts of the brain that are involved with learning, memory, decision-making, and language are affected by one or more of a variety of infections or diseases. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there are as many as 50 other known causes. Most of these causes are very rare.
Because some causes of dementia can be cured or partially treated, it is very important that your doctor is thorough when making the diagnosis, so as not to miss potentially treatable conditions. The frequency of “treatable” causes of dementia is believed to be about 20 percent.
Types of Dementia:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Vascular dementia
- Dementia with Lewy bodies
- Mixed dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Huntington’s Disease
- AIDS dementia complex
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Substance induced persisting dementia
Causes of Dementia:
- Diseases that cause degeneration or loss of nerve cells in the brain such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
- Diseases that affect blood vessels, such as stroke, which can cause a disorder known as multi-infarct dementia.
- Toxic reactions, like excessive alcohol or drug use.
- Nutritional deficiencies, like vitamin B12 and folate deficiency.
- Infections that affect the brain and spinal cord, such as AIDS dementia complex and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
- Certain types of hydrocephalus, an accumulation of fluid in the brain that can result from developmental abnormalities, infections, injury, or brain tumors.
- Head injury — either a single severe head injury or chronic smaller injuries that often occur from sports such as football or boxing.
- Illnesses other than in the brain, such as kidney, liver, and lung diseases, can all lead to dementia.
Symptoms of Dementia:
Dementia symptoms depend on what disease is causing the dementia.
Who gets Dementia?
Dementia is considered a late-life disease because it tends to develop mostly in elderly people. About 5 percent to 8 percent of all people over the age of 65 have some form of dementia, and this number doubles every five years above that age. It is estimated that as many as half of people in their 80s suffer from dementia.
Treatment For Dementia:
Treatment depends on the type of dementia.
Types of dementia which are more treatable:
- Dementia due to long-term substance abuse.
- Tumors that can be removed.
- Subdural hematoma, accumulation of blood beneath the outer covering of the brain as a result of a broken blood vessel, usually caused by head injury.
- Normal-pressure hydrocephalus.
- Metabolic disorders, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Hypothyroidism, a condition that results from an underactive thyroid.
- Hypoglycemia, a condition that results from low blood sugar.
Types of dementia which are less treatable:
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Multi-infarct dementia (Dementia due to multiple small strokes).
- Dementias associated with Parkinson’s disease and similar disorders.
- AIDS dementia complex.
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a quickly progressing and fatal disease that consists of dementia and muscle twitching and spasm.
- Dementia. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. n.d. Web. 30 January 2013.