According to the latest findings, an estimated four to five million people in the United States have dementia. Luckily, this number has slowly been dropping as medicine progresses and new treatment methods are discovered. Regardless, the quantity of people affected by the condition is still very high. So, what are some of the most important factors that people should understand when it comes to dementia?
The underlying cause of dementia is the death of brain cells. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to discover the true connection between the condition and the dying brain cells. Some believe that dementia causes the latter while many people argue the reverse scenario. Additionally, dementia can be caused by things like head trauma, a stroke, or any type of brain tumor.
According to Dr. Manjunath Nathan from the Arizona Medical Center, other causes could involve some of the following:
- Prion diseases like the Creutzfeldt-Jakob condition.
- An HIV infection that has damaged the brain cells.
- Depression or a lack of vitamins and proper nutrients.
Therefore, the number of reasons why someone could be suffering from dementia is quite high. Due to this, it is important for patients to obtain a proper differential diagnosis.
Although one may think that the process to diagnose dementia is complicated, it begins with basic questions. As per Dr. Manjunath Nathan from the Arizona Medical Center, these questions help evaluate the patient’s status. For instance, physicians could ask anything from the current year all the way to the capital of some state. Doing so will provide them with an insight into the patient’s mind.
Also, those suffering from an undiagnosed case of dementia will be given a series of blood tests. Ultimately, the doctor could even order a CT brain scan to see what is happening inside of the patient’s head. Upon the completion of all the steps above, doctors should be able to provide an accurate differential diagnosis. Thus, the patient will know what it is that they are facing.
Beginning the Treatment
Sadly, dementia is not a curable condition. This is because it relates to the death of brain cells that cannot be revived. Therefore, patients are treated to slow down the progression of their symptoms. As with almost every other disease, the treatment for dementia begins with medication. Some of the most common drugs are tacrine, galantamine, and donepezil. Besides the drug-based approach, patients could be given certain brain exercises that help with information retention.
For instance, using mnemonics is a way to stimulate the brain and help it exercise its retention. Although this treatment promises no clear-cut benefits, it may help people with dementia recover some of their vital memory skills. Another popular non-medication treatment revolves around making changes to their dietary habits. In translation, eating healthier and staying away from saturated fats could help delay some of the symptoms.
Ultimately, people could also resort to stimulation therapy if they are looking to avoid medication. A popular example would be the Cranioelectrotherapy where the patient’s brain is given a series of microcurrent pulses of electricity. The goal is to help them retain their word recall and face recognition.
Failing to Act
Although the symptoms of dementia are easily recognized, there are thousands of people who do not take the appropriate steps. Meaning, they may not seek medical help until it becomes too late to do anything about the disease. After all, dementia is closely connected with the death of one’s brain cells. Since it has been established that these cells cannot be brought back to life, one must slow down the rate at which they are dying. Failing to do so could make their condition much worse, and the deterioration of their memory skills would be rapid.
This also serves as a reminder to people who may know about a person that is struggling with the disease. Holding them accountable and advocating for a doctor’s visit is the easiest way to ensure how they get proper treatment. In translation, if there is someone who does not realize that they are suffering from dementia, those around them need to act urgently.