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Dementia
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All about dementia

The word dementia is used to describe a group of symptoms impacting thinking, memory, and social skills. In people with dementia, the symptoms interrupt their regular lives. Dementia is not one particular disease. Severe diseases may cause dementia. A common symptom of dementia is memory loss. It’s frequently one of the initial signs of the condition. But having memory loss alone does not indicate you have dementia. Memory loss can have numerous causes.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common reasons for dementia in older people, but there are various causes of dementia. Depending on the underlying cause, few dementia signs can be reversible.

Symptoms of dementia

Dementia symptoms may vary depending on the cause. A few common symptoms include-

Cognitive changes

  • Issues with problem-solving or reasoning
  • Trouble solving difficult tasks
  • Trouble with organizing and planning
  • Control of movements and poor coordination
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Problems finding words or communicating

Psychological changes

  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Personality changes
  • Anxiety, depression, agitation
  • Hallucinations

When to see a healthcare expert

You should consult a healthcare expert if you or a close one has memory issues or other dementia symptoms. You must determine the cause of dementia. Few health conditions that cause dementia symptoms are treatable.

Causes of dementia

Dementia is generally caused by the loss or damage of nerve cells and their connections in the brain. The affected part of the brain determines the symptoms. Dementia may impact people differently. Dementias are generally grouped by what they have in common. Based on the protein or proteins deposited in the brain or the damaged region of the brain, they can be categorized. Also, few diseases have symptoms like those of dementia. Few drugs may cause an adverse reaction that includes dementia symptoms. Not getting enough of particular minerals or vitamins also may cause dementia symptoms. When this happens, dementia symptoms can improve with treatment.

Risk factors for dementia

Here are several risk factors for dementia, such as

Family history

Family history plays the lead role in developing dementia. If you have a painful history of dementia in your family, you are more likely to have this condition.

Age

Increasing age is one of the major known risk factors for dementia. It impacts those 65 years old or older.

Traumatic brain injury

Head injuries may enhance the risk of dementia, mainly if they are severe or happen repeatedly.

Poor heart health

High cholesterol, high BP, and smoking enhance the chance of dementia if not treated properly.

Ethnicity/race

Compared to white American people, older African Americans have twice the risk of dementia. Besides, compared to White people, Hispanics have a 1.5-fold higher risk of dementia.

Prevention of dementia

There are several ways to prevent dementia, such as

Quit smoking

Research has shown that smoking in middle age and beyond may enhance the chance of dementia and blood vessel conditions. Quitting smoking may lower the risk and improve overall health.

Get enough vitamin supplements

According to some studies, those who have low levels of vitamin D in their blood are more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. You may enhance your vitamin D levels with specific supplements, foods, and sun exposure.

Be socially and physically active

Engaging in social and physical activity may delay the onset of this condition and lower its symptoms. You should aim for 2.5 hours of exercise weekly.

Get sound sleep

You should practice good sleep hygiene. Consult a healthcare expert if you snore a lot or have periods where you stop gasping or breathing during sleep.

Treat hearing issues

Those who have hearing issues have an increased chance of developing issues with thinking, called cognitive decline. Early treatment of hearing loss, such as using hearing aids, may help lower the risk.

Treat cardiovascular risk factors

Treat diabetes, high cholesterol, and high BP. You need to lose weight if you are an overweight person. High BP may lead to a greater risk of a few types of dementia. More research is required to determine whether treating high BP can lower the chance of dementia.

Consume healthy diet

A diet high in veggies, fruits, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains is helpful to lower the chance of dementia. You may consume certain nuts and fish to get nutrients and vitamins. These types of diets are also helpful in improving cardiovascular health, which also can help reduce dementia risk.

Treatment of dementia

Most forms of dementia cannot be cured, but there are various ways to handle your symptoms.

Medications

There are various medications, such as

Cholinesterase inhibitors 

These drugs function by increasing levels of a chemical messenger involved in judgment and memory. They include cholinesterase inhibitors [rivastigmine, donepezil, and galantamine].

Memantine

Memantine functions by managing the activity of glutamate. Glutamate is a different chemical messenger involved in human brain functions such as memory and learning. Memantine is occasionally prescribed in combination with cholinesterase inhibitors.

Other medicines

You may use other drugs to treat dementia symptoms or other conditions. You might need treatment for sleep issues, depression, agitation, hallucinations, or parkinsonism.

Therapies and healthy habits

Therapies and healthy habits may also help to treat the initial stage of dementia. There are several therapies that you may try after consulting your healthcare expert, such as

  • Occupational therapy
  • Simpler tasks
  • Reducing noise and clutter

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