Alzheimer's: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Alzheimer's: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. Alzheimer's is a type of syndrome that causes the brain to shrink and can rob human memory. Early symptoms of this disease, people have a hard time remembering the recent events, although they may be easier to remember things that happened in the past years.

Over time, other symptoms may arise, including:

  • Focus issues
  • Difficulty performing normal activities
  • Feeling confused or frustrated, especially at night
  • Mood swings like an outburst of anger, anxiety, and depression
  • Feel confused and lost easily
  • Physical problems, such as strange when walking or poor coordination
  • Difficulty communicating
People with this disease may forget their loved ones. They may forget how to dress, eat themselves, and use the toilet.

This disease makes the brain tissue damaged over time, which in medical is called brain atrophy. The condition of brain atrophy makes the brain progressively smaller. Usually, this happens in people over the age of 65 years.

A person can live with this disease for several years or several decades. After all, people can live with Alzheimer's for about 9 years. About 1 in 8 people are 65 years old and have more severe disease. Women are more likely to experience this disease than men.

What causes Alzheimer's disease?

People who get this disease are usually older, but this condition is not a normal part of aging. Scientists are not sure why some people get Alzheimer's while others do not. But they know that the symptoms seem to come from two main types of nerve damage:

  • Atrophic or shrinking nerve cells, called neurofibrillary atrophy.
  • A protein deposit called beta-amyloid plaque to build in the brain.

Researchers are not sure what caused this damage or how it happened, but this damage can be caused by a protein in the blood called ApoE (apolipoprotein E), which the body uses to drive cholesterol in the blood.

Several types of ApoE may be associated with Alzheimer's risk. It may be that specific forms of ApoE may cause damage to a person's brain. Scientists think this is a vital role in the formation of plaque in the brain in people who experience it.

Whether it is ApoE or not that causes Alzheimer's, genes almost certainly play a role in this disease. A person with a parent who has this disease is more likely to have it as well.

There is some evidence that people who have high cholesterol and high blood pressure have a higher risk of getting this disease. It is rare, but a head injury is also a reason for the higher potential to have the risk of this disease in the future. Scientists are still studying many of these theories, but it is clear that the greatest risk is associated with age and genetic presence of parents who have Alzheimer's disease.

How do I know I have Alzheimer's disease?

If you think you or a loved one has symptoms of Alzheimer's, check with your doctor so that it can be known for sure. The above signs can be seen in several other diseases including:

  • Infection
  • Taking drugs that do not work well together
  • Small stroke
  • Depression
  • Low blood sugar
  • Thyroid problems
  • Brain tumor
  • Parkinson's disease

Your doctor will test you or someone you care about to see if you really have this condition. A doctor usually will start with a physical examination and a mental status test, including:

  • Memory
  • Verbal skills/language
  • Solution to problem
  • Ability to think
  • Mood

The doctor may also ask other family members so that the doctor knows the concentration of the patient.

Doctors can use brain imaging tests to decide if a person has this disease or other problems.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a method performed by using powerful magnets and radio waves to create images from the brain. Scans may show whether a person has a stroke, tumor, or blood clot that can cause symptoms.
  • (PET) or Positron emission tomography is a scan that shows plaque that accumulates in the brain affected by this disease. But health services and insurance carriers do not usually include PET Scan.

The difference between Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment is normal for the elderly

Alzheimer's disease

  • Almost always cannot distinguish what is good and bad and not able to make decisions well
  • Problems in taking care of monthly bills for difficulty counting
  • Not able to remember the date or month
  • Difficult to communicate
  • Often forget to put stuff and can not find it again
Normal mild cognitive impairment
  • Only sometimes cannot make good decisions
  • Forget paying monthly bills
  • Forget what day but be able to remember it at a later time
  • Sometimes forget the words used to speak
  • Often forget to put stuff, then find it again, which happens repeatedly
What is the right treatment?

There is no cure for this disease. But there are drugs that seem to be used to slow the progression of the disease, especially in the early stages. Others can help with mood swings and other behavioral issues.

  • Tacrine (Cognex). This is the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of this disease. It works by slowing down the chemical damage to the brain, also called acetylcholine, which can help nerve cells in the brain to send messages to one another. Because this drug causes liver damage, it is banned from circulation in 2012.
  • Donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine. They work in the same way as Cognex but have no bad side effects. These medications can improve how well the brain works in the early stages of Alzheimer's and delay the worsening symptoms.
  • Memantine (Namenda). Brain chemicals called glutamate are substances that damage the brain. These drugs seem to protect the nerve damage that occurs from glutamate chemicals and has fewer side effects than other drugs. People who have moderate to severe Alzheimer's may consume this drug along with donepezil, galantamine, or rivastigmine.
  • These drugs are a combination of memantine and donepezil. This is intended for moderate to severe Alzheimer's.

Doctors prescribe some medications to relieve specific Alzheimer's symptoms:

  • To relieve paranoia, confusion, hallucinations (hallucinations see, hear, or feeling absent), and aggressive behavior, doctors may recommend antipsychotic medications, such as haloperidol (Haldol), olanzapine (Zyprexa), and risperidone (Risperdal).
  • Drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and venlafaxine (Effexor), may help relieve depression.
  • Sleeping pills to fight insomnia.
  • Anti-anxiety medications, including lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), buspirone (BuSpar), and oxazepam (Serax) to treat agitation

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