The human brain is the central organ of the human nervous system and the most complex one as well. It is responsible for controlling most of the activities of the body including memory and sensation.
Also known for being the command center of the human body the brain constantly sends and receives signals to other parts of the body
This clearly indicates that any disorder in the proper functioning of the brain can lead to causing havoc in the human body affecting everything from movement to speech to memory and thus ones overall personality.
One such disorder that this article will lay light on is a disease caused by the improper functioning of the brain called – Alzheimer’s.
ALZHEIMER’S – THE DISEASE
Alzheimer’sdisease – prevalent in people in the mid 60’s and also termed as “senile dementia” in medical terms is a progressive brain disorder that slowly damages and destroys the thinking capability of an individual. When we say thinking capability we mean that a person suffering from this disease can loose capabilities of remembering, recognizing, reasoning and retaining thoughts and information.
Basically dementia is a condition in which an individual suffers from loss of cognitive functioning which includes all of the capabilities mentioned above.
What comes as a major challenge to the medical fraternity is the fact that this disease is not only progressive in nature but also irreversible, making it extremely difficult and almost impossible to cure a person completely.
STAGES OF ALZEIMER’S:
The severity of the disease in an individual is judged by the various stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Patients may show varying symptoms depending upon which the stage of the disease can be diagnosed.
|Stage 1||No impairment|
|Stage 2||Very mild cognitive decline|
|Stage 3||Mild cognitive decline|
|Stage 4||Early stage dementia- Moderate cognitive decline|
|Stage 5||Mid stage dementia- Moderately severe decline|
|Stage 6||Severe cognitive decline|
|Stage 7||Late stage – Very severe cognitive decline|
Depending on the stage a patient may show symptoms of loss of memory, thinking capabilities, retaining and recognizing and other behavioral and psychological changes.
No matter what the root cause, however, AD occurs because brain cells are slowly dying .Some people may have genes that put them at higher risk for AD but so might other factors, such as having type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. In spite of a number of years put into the research and study of Alzheimer’s disease researchers and scientists haven’t been able to completely decipher what causes Alzheimer’s disease although, study does show significant signs pertaining to a combination of genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may vary from person to person and also in nature. These can broadly be categorized into the following heads:
- Cognitive:difficulty in thinking and understanding, confusion, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, etc.Forgetting important dates/events. Asking same information again and again
- Challenges in planning and solving day to day tasks such as handling bills, difficulty in remembering rules of games he /she used to play
- Forgetting things kept somewhere
- Behavioral: Withdrawal from work or social activities. May have aggression, agitation, meaningless repetition of own words, wandering or getting lost.
- Mood: feeling confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious, mood swings etc.
- Psychological: depression and hallucinations
- Body: loss of appetite or restlessness
Although these is no specific test for this disease doctors , with the help of a few lab tests that act as aids in detecting the existence and severity of the disease take into consideration the symptoms shown by an individual.
Mental status testing.
Neuropsychological tests. You may be evaluated by a specialist trained in brain conditions and mental health conditions
Interviews with friends and family
Laboratory tests to rule out other disorders that cause some symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s dementia, such as a thyroid disorder or vitamin B-12 deficiency.
brain-imaging technologies: MRI/PET CT
Since each individual shows varying symptoms the stage and intensity of the disease is also judged accordingly and a corresponding course of action is prescribed.
One important aspect to note here is that dementia may not always lead to Alzheimer’s disease and that it is extremely important to be able to differentiate between the two. For a doctor it is crucial to decipher a thin line between the two and prescribe a treatment that is best suitable for an individual.
Unfortunately Alzheimer’s as a disease can only be completely diagnosed after the death of a person.
As mentioned earlier in the article Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible and progressive disease, thereby having very little or almost no scope to cure it but if detected in time and at an earlier stage it can surely be managed.
The treatment for Alzheimer’s disease may include everything from drugs, providing a safe and secure environment, exercises, treatments, therapies to even nutrition.
There are medicines that can ease some of the symptoms in some people. They can slow down how quickly the disease gets worse, and help the brain work better for longer.
The entire course of treatment prescribed is aimed at causing considerable cognitive changes in the human brain and thereby helping in managing the various stages of the disease.
The course of treatment also largely depends on the stage and severity of Alzheimer’s disease in an individual