By: Dr Sudhakar Kasinathan
CHENNAI: Alzheimer disease occurs when the brain cells responsible for memory and other functions begin to die. It is an irreversible, progressive disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. Alzheimer starts in the region of brain that affects recent memory, gradually spreading to other parts of the brain. There is usually no cure for this disease.
Alzheimer cases are genetic. In Alzheimer Disease (AD), plaques develop in the hippocampus, a structure deep in the brain that helps to encode memories and in other areas of the cerebral cortex that are involved in thinking and making decisions. Mild cognitive impairment and subtle memory loss of the most recent events are the first few symptoms found for a person affected by Alzheimer. As Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, the symptoms take few years before it worsens the onset, progression severity and speed, as well as time to death varies significantly between affected individuals.
Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. But, a patient with preclinical AD may appear completely normal on physical examination and mental status testing. Specific regions of the brain (e.g., entorhinal cortex, hippocampus) are likely to be affected decades before any signs or symptoms appear.
As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain, it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time, and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. Due to feeding issues, severe weight loss can occur. As motor problems worsen, there may be severely impaired in speech, difficulty in positioning oneself, urinary and bowel incontinence.
Short-term memory loss or subtle early symptoms of dementia may be overlooked or attributed to medications, stress, depression and anxiety, which could be Alzheimer. Patients are generally more at risk of paranoia, anger, confusion and depression. We advise to reach an expert early.
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