Understanding Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease, was first illustrated by the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer, as a physical disease that affects the brain.

People who suffer from this disease may suffer from memory impairment, problems with language, decision-making ability and overall personality issues. They experience deteriorating intellectual and social skills leading to actual damage of the brain.

Causes of Alzheimer's:
The cause of AD is not entirely known, but is thought to include both genetic and environmental factors. A diagnosis of AD is made when certain symptoms are present, and by making sure other causes of dementia are not present.

Risk factors of Alzheimer's:
- As you get older, your risk of developing AD goes up. However, developing Alzheimer's disease is not a part of normal aging.
- Having a close blood relative, such as a brother, sister, or parent who developed AD increases your risk.
- Having certain combination of genes for proteins that appear to be abnormal in Alzheimer's disease also increases your risk.

Types of AD:
There are two types of AD, early onset and late onset.
- In early onset AD, symptoms first appear before age 60. Early onset AD is much less common than late onset. However, it tends to progress rapidly. Early onset disease can run in families. Several genes have been identified.
- Late onset AD, the most common form of the disease, develops in people age 60 and older. Late onset AD may run in some families, but the role of genes is less clear.

Dementia symptoms include difficulty with many areas of mental function, including:
- Language
- Memory
- Perception
- Emotional behavior or personality
- Cognitive skills (such as calculation, abstract thinking, or judgment)
- Dementia usually first appears as forgetfulness.

Signs and tests of AD:
AD can often be diagnosed through a history and physical exam. Tests may be ordered to help determine whether other medical problems could be causing dementia or making it worse.
These conditions include: thyroid disease, vitamin deficiency, brain tumor, stroke, intoxication from medication, chronic infection, anemia and severe depression.Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain may be done to look for other causes of dementia, such as a brain tumor or stroke.

Treatment of AD:
Unfortunately, there is no cure for AD. The goals in treating AD are to:
- Slow the progression of the disease (although this is difficult to do)
- Manage behavior problems, confusion, sleep problems, and agitation
- Modify the home environment
- Support family members and other caregivers

Medication .
consult your doctor for medication

Prevention of AD:
Consume a low-fat diet. Eat cold-water fish (like tuna, salmon, and mackerel) rich in omega-3 fatty acids, at least 2 to 3 times per week. Reduce your intake of linoleic acid found in margarine, butter, and dairy products.

Increase antioxidants like carotenoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C by eating plenty of dark colored fruits and vegetables. Maintain a normal blood pressure and stay mentally and socially active throughout your life.

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