Understanding Dementia And Its Various Types
Dementia is a medical term used to describe a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders which affects the cells of the brain. Dementia is a syndrome in which the functioning of the brain is affected to such an extent that it interferes with an individual’s normal working life, it affects the thinking, behavior and an ability to perform everyday tasks. It affects every person uniquely and each person experience dementia in their own way. It is a progressive disease, therefore the symptoms of this disease will get worse over time.
Types of Dementia
1. Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and it accounts large proportion of cases. It is the disease of the brain that causes problems with thinking, memory and behavior. Generally, the symptoms of alzheimer’s disease are mild to start but over time, they get worse and interferes with daily activities. Most of the time, memory lapses is the earliest symptom of this disease or in particular, a patient finds it difficult to recall recent events and learn new information. This disease damages the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a central role in day to day memory. Memory difficulties are the early symptoms of this disease but with time, a patient having this disease develop problems with other aspect of reasoning, memory, communication and perception. The prevalence of this brain disorder is increasing and in the United States, it has become a critical public health issue.
2. Frontotemporal dementia
Frontotemporal dementia occurs due to damage to the nerve cells in parts of the brain known as frontal and temporal lobes. When the nerve cells in the frontal and temporal regions are attacked, these lobes shrink and as a result it develops difficulties in the functions of thinking and behavior that are controlled by these regions of the brain. The functioning of frontal lobes include planning, prioritizing, multitasking and it also manage emotional response. Frontotemporal dementia is divided into three types:
- Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia - This is the most common type and it is characterized by changes in personality, behaviour, emotions and judgement. The behavioral and personality changes may include apathy and disinhibition. A person may also develop repeated movements or saying and changes in eating pattern.
- Progressive language decline - This type of frontotemporal dementia is characterized by the changes in the language ability and it include problems with speaking, reading, understanding and writing. Common early signs of this type of dementia include slow and hesitant speech, errors in grammar, and an impaired understanding of complex sentences.
- Progressive motor decline - A motor disorder is a disorder that causes problems with movement. Progressive motor decline is characterized by the difficulties with physical movements such as difficulty walking, shaking, frequent fall, and poor coordination.
3. Vascular dementia
Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia following Alzheimer’s disease and it is described as a problems with reasoning, planning, judgement, and other thinking skills are plays a significant role in daily activities. It is also known as vascular cognitive impairment and it occurs due to reduced blood flow to the brain. The symptoms of vascular dementia gets worse over time and the severity and the speed of progression of this disease may vary from person to person. Vascular dementia is divided into different types and two most common of these include:
- Stroke related dementia - This type of vascular dementia develops after a stroke, known as post stroke dementia or it develops after series of small stroke, known as multi infarct dementia.
- Subcortical vascular dementia - This type of vascular dementia is often referred to as small vessel disease related dementia and it develops when there is any changes to small vessels of the brain.
4. Lewy body dementia
Lewy body dementia is a complex brain disorder which affects many parts of the brain and it is characterized by the symptoms that involve disturbances of movement, cognition, behavior, sleep and autonomic function. Lewy body dementia is a disease which is related to the abnormal deposit of the proteins, known as alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits affect the chemicals in the brain which results in the problems with thinking, movement and behavior. Lewy body dementia is divided into two types - dementia with lewy bodies and parkinson’s disease dementia. The biological changes in the brain is similar in both the types of lewy body dementia but the early symptoms of these types differ.
- Dementia with lewy bodies - The most common features of this type are progressive cognitive impairment, visual hallucinations, fluctuations in the level of alertness, fluctuations in the level of alertness, and cognitive acuity.
- Parkinson’s disease dementia - It is a movement disorder that usually affects individuals over the age of 60. It include symptoms such as tremor, slowed mobility, stiffness of muscles, stooped posture and shuffling gait.
5. Mixed dementia
Mixed dementia is defined as a coexistence of vascular pathologies and alzheimer’s disease in the same dementia patient. Mixed dementia consists of the features of both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Therefore, changes to the functioning of the brain are the result of both, build up of damaged tissue and blocked blood vessels. It affects the way the cells of the brain works. Mixed dementia develop gradually and some common symptoms that develops in the patients having mixed dementia include, difficulty concentrating, communication problems, confusion, sudden changes in mood, and difficulty remembering recent events.
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