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Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alzheimer’s vs Dementia

With old age come problems of loss of cognitive abilities, loss of memory, and impairment of the ability to think coherently. These symptoms are broadly classified as dementia while there is another dreaded ailment known as Alzheimer’s with similar symptoms that has increased alarmingly across the country in the last few decades. While Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease, dementia is not called a disease. Their symptoms are also similar, bringing much confusion among the patients who suffer from either of the two. It is extremely necessary to know the real differences between Alzheimer’s and Dementia for a proper diagnosis and possible treatment.

Alzheimer’s disease is probably the most common cause of dementia. However, any patient who is suffering from dementia may or may not have Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a disease in which brain cells die progressively. This disease is caused by plaque and protein deposits in and around the brain that interferes with normal functioning of brain cells and they begin to die. This is a disease common in old age but there are cases when even young people have contracted this disease. The affected areas of cognition are memory, attention, language and problem solving. As the disease progresses, disorientation in time starts to surface that poses severe problems for the patient and his family. In the later phases of Alzheimer’s there is a total breakdown of communication ability, total loss of long term memory and utter confusion.

Dementia is a group of symptoms and is not classified as a disease. With old age, there is loss of cognitive abilities and intellectual functions with a simultaneous loss of brain functions. These symptoms can surface either with the natural process of aging or can be triggered by brain injury, brain disease (read Alzheimer’s), drug or alcohol abuse, and vitamin and hormonal imbalances. The most common symptoms of dementia are memory loss, changes in personality, mood swings, confusion, speech problems and a general difficulty in carrying on with day to day activities. Dementia is normally diagnosed when these symptoms interfere with normal day to day functions and the person cannot cope with them. Dementia can be reversible or irreversible depending upon what triggers it. If it is caused by vitamin or hormonal imbalances reversal of symptoms is possible. However, if caused by Alzheimer’s, dementia may not be treatable. This particular type of dementia is known as SDAT, or senile dementia of Alzheimer’s type.

Summary

• Old age is commonly associated with loss of cognitive abilities, and when these symptoms worsen interfering with day to day activities, people are often diagnosed with dementia. It is a cluster of symptoms and not a disease while Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease.

• Alzheimer’s is caused by deposit of plaque and tangles around brain cells and is the most common cause of onset of dementia.


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