Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, debilitating brain disease. It causes memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
It is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time. It usually begins in middle age.
That cause alzheimer
Alzheimer’s Disease is a brain disorder that causes a gradual loss of memory and thinking ability. The condition is caused by abnormal proteins called plaques and tangles that build up in the brain. The protein deposits damage and kill brain cells, causing the brain to shrink.
These changes happen over time and can begin many years before symptoms appear. They are mainly associated with loss of neurons and decreased levels of certain chemical messengers in the brain that allow messages to be sent between brain cells.
Scientists don’t know exactly what causes the damage. But it’s known that this process starts in the hippocampus area of the brain, which is responsible for memory and learning.
When this area of the brain is damaged, it can affect other parts of the brain as well. Over time, this can cause the hippocampus to shrink and lead to memory problems.
Other factors that can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s are genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle habits. For example, a diet high in fat and sugar can increase the risk of this disease.
In addition, a family history of dementia can also increase your risk. If several members of your family have suffered from this disease, it’s important to get tested to find out whether you have the APOE gene.
People with a mutation in this gene have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. These mutations produce too much of a toxic protein fragment called amyloid-beta peptide. This causes the abnormal accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain.
Those with this genetic mutation have also been found to develop neurofibrillary tangles, which are clusters of tau proteins that build up in the brain. These tangles can damage the nerve cells that control thinking, emotion and movement.
The tangles are also more likely to develop in the frontal part of the brain, which is related to the ability to plan and control emotions. The tangles are more common in older adults, but they can also occur in younger people.
Other factors that can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s include a low level of education, poor eating habits and exposure to head trauma. Having a history of untreated heart or blood vessel disease may also increase your risk. Preventing or managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease can lower your risk of developing this disease.
Signs of alzheimer’s disease
If you’re concerned that a loved one is experiencing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, be sure to visit their doctor. They can assess the symptoms and recommend tests, such as a mental status exam, blood and urine tests, or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain.
Generally, the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are a lack of memory or thinking skills. A person may forget things that happened in the past, like family birthdays or anniversary dates, or they may struggle with finding their way around the house.
They may also forget the names of common items, such as their car keys or the names of their children and spouse. They may also misplace things, have trouble managing their finances, take longer to complete regular tasks and have changes in their mood or personality.
Another sign of Alzheimer’s is a loss of spatial relationships, which includes being able to recognize objects that are close and far away. This is called “spatial confusion.” People with Alzheimer’s often confuse time and place, and can lose their sense of direction or find themselves lost in a familiar place.
Other early symptoms of Alzheimer’s include a change in eating habits and sleep patterns, along with changes in behavior or mood. For example, a person who always enjoyed talking with friends may start to withdraw and become irritable or depressed.
Physical changes are other warning signs of Alzheimer’s, including pale skin, flushed skin, mouth sores, vomiting or feverish skin. Other symptoms can be seen in the nonverbal aspects of a person’s behavior, such as gestures and facial expressions.
In the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a person may have completely lost their short-term memory and have no ability to recognize family or friends. This can make them lose their independence and need assistance with daily activities, such as eating or using the bathroom.
Other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include a loss of balance and clumsiness, difficulty identifying colors and seeing far away objects. These changes can affect a person’s ability to drive or use the stairs. They can also cause them to trip, fall or be injured in a fall.
Treatment for alzheimer’s disease
If you or a loved one are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to get the right treatment. Early detection can slow the progress of the disease, and some medications are clinically proven to help improve memory and cognitive skills.
In the early stage, a person may start to forget familiar names or things. They might also have trouble remembering details like dates and seasons, or noticing where they’ve put their keys.
It’s also common for people with Alzheimer’s to struggle with simple arithmetic problems. For example, they might have trouble balancing their checkbook.
Another symptom of early-stage Alzheimer’s is that the person often has difficulties with spatial relationships, such as reading a book or judging distances. This can cause them to trip over furniture or fall down when walking around their home.
The condition may also affect a person’s personality and mood. It can make them become anxious, withdrawn or suspicious when placed in a new environment.
During this phase, the person may start to have hallucinations or delusions. This is a very distressing and frightening time for the person, as well as their carer and friends or family members.
There are other signs of late-stage Alzheimer’s, such as the inability to recognize or understand others, a complete dependence on others to perform activities of daily living and severe disorientation (including wandering or getting lost). The person may also experience personality changes or hostility.
As the disease progresses, it can cause serious injuries to a person’s body. These can include bladder and bowel problems, a lack of awareness of what is happening in their body, or choking and swallowing issues.
Other symptoms that may occur at this stage are a loss of appetite and the inability to drink or use the toilet without assistance. These can lead to severe illness and death if not treated.
There are no current treatments to stop or cure Alzheimer’s disease, but scientists are making incredible strides in the field of Alzheimer’s research. These may lead to future cures that will allow people to keep their functional skills longer than would otherwise be possible.
How to prevent alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a serious and progressive disease that can cause severe symptoms and even take your life. It occurs when a build-up of two proteins in the brain leads to abnormal changes in the neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques.
This can cause problems with memory and thinking skills, and it often begins in the elderly. The first signs of the disease usually occur about a decade before you begin experiencing symptoms.
In early stages, you may experience forgetfulness and trouble remembering things, such as where you put your keys or a phone number. You might also lose the ability to understand what you read, hear or say.
You may also start to have difficulty with the simple tasks of eating, bathing or dressing. In later stages, you might have to rely on others to do these things for you. You might also have problems concentrating on work or school.
There is no way to completely prevent Alzheimer’s, but there are some lifestyle changes that can lower your risk of developing the disease and slow its progression. These include improving your sleep, reducing stress and eating a healthy diet.
A good night’s sleep is essential for cognitive functioning, so get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Make your bedroom cool and dark to promote rest, and don’t drink coffee or eat sweets before bedtime.
Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber and whole grains is another way to lower your risk of alzheimer’s disease. A Mediterranean diet, for example, has been linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
It’s also important to limit your alcohol consumption, especially heavy amounts. Consuming too much alcohol can speed up brain aging and worsen memory loss.
Managing chronic inflammation is another key step to keeping your body and brain healthy, according to Harvard Medical School researchers. Chronic inflammation can damage the body’s cells and lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
You can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by controlling your cholesterol levels, getting regular exercise and taking steps to manage other health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart disease. If you have a family history of the disease, it’s also helpful to see your doctor for a thorough evaluation.