Perhaps you would have come across some elderly people that have a problem with remembering things, and they can forget things easily. Today, we’ll discuss what is Alzheimer’s disease; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a type of dementia and neurological condition, where the death of brain cells causes cognitive decline and memory loss. According to an estimate, AD impacts approximately 5 million people in the US annually, and the figure would become triple by the end of 2060. Usually, it impacts elderly people of age 65 years old or above, and its occurrence rate among young people is only 10%.
AD is a neurological condition that impacts your brain, and its symptoms are mild in the beginning, and they become severe in the later stage. Some of its common symptoms are unpredictable behavior, impulsiveness, language problems, and losing memory.
One of its main features is the existence of tangles and plaques in the brain, and the other feature is losing connection neurons and the nerve cells in the brain. Once the symptoms start aggravating, then it becomes difficult for a person to recognize people, be reasonable, and recall the most recent events. Finally, it reaches a point where the person with an AD condition requires assistance all the time.
According to an estimate by National Institute on Aging; AD condition is the 6th top reason for death in the USA. Other studies in the USA showed that it’s the top 3rd cause of death after cancer and heart disease.
Stages of Alzheimer’s disease
As I said earlier that AD works in stages and progresses from mild and moderate to severe. Some of its main symptoms in various stages are as follows;
Mild Alzheimer’s disease Stage
People with mild AD conditions develop cognitive problems and memory issues, and it comprises of following;
- Change in behavior and personality like pacing, hiding thing, getting angry easily, and being upset
- Getting lost and wandering
- Issues with paying bills and handling money
- Taking a lot of time in performing routine tasks
Areas of the brain that deal with consciousness, reasoning, senses, and languages get damaged. It results in the form of the following symptoms;
- Paranoia, delusion, and hallucination
- Impulsive behavior
- The problem in dealing with new situations
- An issue with performing tasks comprising various stages like dressing up
- Incapable of learning new things
- Problem with recognizing friends and family members
- Confusion and losing memory
Tangles and plaques are existent throughout the brain, and they shrink the brain tissues to a great extent. It results in the form of the following;
- Difficult and unable to leave the bed the whole day
- Relying on others for daily care
- Communication incapability
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological condition. It means that its symptoms aggravate over time, and losing memory is its main feature and it develops first. However, it’s such a condition that its symptoms develop over the period of months and years gradually. If a person develops this condition in a short time of hours and days, then one needs medical attention. Some of the main symptoms of AD in different categories are as follows;
A person would face difficulty in remembering and learning new information. It results in the form of the following;
- Getting lost and wandering here and there
- Forgetful about making appointments and about different events
- Losing objects
- Questioning and making the same conversation repetitively
The person would have difficulty in making a judgment, solving complicated tasks, and becoming reasonable. It results in the form of the following;
- The trouble with finishing the task that comprises various stages like getting dressed
- Problem with decision making
- Issues with paying bills and managing money
- Lower comprehension of risks and safety
The person would have trouble recognizing things, objects, and faces; and experience difficulty in using the simple basic tools. These problems do not happen because of the eyesight issues.
Spatial Awareness Problem
The person would experience issues in balancing things, getting dressed up properly, the orientation of clothes, spilling things, and tripping over often.
The person would face difficulty in spelling words, making writing mistakes, unclear speech, and taking time and thinking about the usage of simple common words.
Change in Behavior/Personality
The person would face the changes in behavior and personality like;
- Socially inappropriate behavior, obsession, and compulsiveness
- No empathy
- Losing interest in the joyful and motivating activities
- Getting worried, angry, and upset often and more than usual
Causes of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease happens because of the death of brain cells like any other type of dementia. It’s a form of neurodegenerative condition, and it means that the brain cells die over a period of time. However, the person with AD condition has got a small deposit of tangles and plaques building on the nerve tissues and the brain tissues have got limited connection and nerve cells.
Plaques occur by the death of brain cells, and it comprises a beta-amyloid protein. The tangles develop within the nerve cells, and it comprises Tau protein. However, researchers don’t fully know the reason for the occurrence of these changes. It happens because of various factors.
Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t have any cure, and it is nearly impossible to reverse the death of the brain cell process. The treatment plan helps you to relieve the severity of symptoms, and improve the quality of life for the patient, their caregiver, and family members.
Medication for Cognitive Symptoms
There is no drug or medicine that could reverse or stop Alzheimer’s disease, but they can assist you to live a quality life and decrease its symptoms. For instance, cholinesterase inhibitor medicine helps you to relive cognitive symptoms like judgment issues, thought processing, confusion, and memory loss. It focuses on slowing down the progress of the disease and improving neural communication in the brain. Some of the main FDA approved drugs that could treat the symptoms of AD condition are as follows;
- Rivastigmine helps you to treat the symptom of the mild-to-moderate stage
- Galantamine assists you to treat symptoms of mild-to-moderate stage
- Donepezil works in all stages
- Memantine works in the moderate-to-severe stage
- Namzaric is a combination of memantine and donepezil
Treatment for Behavior & Emotions
It’s difficult to deal with the behavioral and emotional changes relevant to Alzheimer’s disease. Such patients would experience sleep issues, restlessness, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Some drugs have got side effects like vision and hearing problems, and discomfort from a medical condition.
You have to point out such triggering factors that cause such behavior, and avoiding such factors can help you to manage changes. The triggering factors could be like changing clothes, bathing, a new caregiver, or a change in the environment. The doctor would recommend medication to deal with symptoms like;
- Antipsychotic medicines for aggression, delusion, and hallucination
- Antianxiety medicine
- And antidepressant drugs
Conclusion: What is Alzheimer’s disease? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
After an in-depth study of what is Alzheimer’s disease; its stages, symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that AD is a neurodegenerative condition with no reversal. If you have started to experience its symptoms, then you should consult with your caregiver and doctor.
Ahsan is an accomplished researcher and has a deep insight in worldly life affairs. He goes Live 3 days a week on various social media platforms. Other than research writing, he’s a very interesting person.