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All you need to know about Dementia

Dementia is not a single disease in itself, but a collective term used to describe
different symptoms such as lack of memory, communication and thinking problems.
There are chances of dementia increasing with age but it is not a common part of
ageing. Due to normal ageing, light cognitive impairments such as poorer short-
term memory can develop, known as age-related cognitive decline. This does not
cause major problems like dementia. There are two or more types of dementia
symptoms that can severely affect a persons daily activities.

60 to 80% of people are affected with Alzheimer disease which is the most
common type of dementia. Vascular dementia is the second most common type
which occurs after a stroke. There are also many other conditions that can lead to
dementia, symptoms including some which are reversible like thyroid problems and
vitamin deficiencies.

The symptoms of dementia may vary widely. However, some common symptoms of
dementia are:

Memory loss
Communication and language problems
Compromised ability to focus and pay attention
Weakened reasoning and judgment
Decreased visual perception
Mood swings
Changes in personality
Lack of interest

Most people suffering from dementia have problems such as short-term memory
loss or Amnesia. Most symptoms of dementia worsen gradually with time.

Causes of Dementia-

Dementia is caused by the death of brain cells. The damage to brain cells obstructs
neural communication with each other, causing abnormalities in thinking, behaviour
and feelings. Different types of dementia are associated with particular types of
brain cell damage in particular regions of the brain.

In Alzheimers, the brain cells find it hard to stay healthy due to the high levels of
certain proteins, making it difficult to communicate with each other. The brain
region called the hippocampus is the centre of learning and memory in the brain,
and the brain cells in this region are often the first to get damaged. This is why
memory loss is often one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's.

Most changes in the brain, caused due to dementia, can get worse over time.
However, certain thinking and memory problems caused due to the below-
mentioned conditions can be improved with proper treatment:

Medication side effects

Excess use of alcohol
Thyroid problems
Vitamin deficiencies

Diagnosis & treatment-

There are no particular tests to diagnose dementia. Patients with Alzheimer's and
other types of dementia are diagnosed by doctors on the basis of a careful study of
the medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, and the characteristic
changes in thinking and behaviour associated with each type. It is difficult to
determine the exact type of dementia as the symptoms and brain changes of
different forms can overlap.

The treatment of dementia depends on its cause. Most progressive forms, including
those caused by Alzheimers, have no cure and treatment to slow down or stop its
advancement. However, there are certain drug treatments that can improve the
symptoms temporarily. The same drugs prescribed for one type of Dementia might
be prescribed for other types as well. Non-drug therapies can also be helpful to
reduce some symptoms of dementia. New researches and clinical studies are
continuously being made on effective treatments for dementia.

With 24 hospitals, 7 heart centres and a network of primary health centers across
India, Narayana Health is one of the best hospitals in India for Neurology. They work
with some of the best neurologists and therapists in the country. Known for its high-
quality, affordable healthcare services and a team neuro physicians who are
dedicated and experienced, Narayana provides advanced care in almost 30
specialities including neurology and neurosurgery, cardiology and cardiac surgery,
cancer care, orthopedics, nephrology and urology and gastroenterology.