What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

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Everyone is forgetful from time to time, but when your loved one starts repeating themselves and misplacing objects, it could be Alzheimer’s. There’s no cure, but medications can help ease symptoms for a while.

Cholinesterase inhibitors (ko-lin-ES-tur-ays) work by boosting levels of the brain chemical acetylcholine. They can also treat depression, agitation and aggression.

That cause alzheimer

Alzheimer’s is caused by an abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells. This causes the cells to lose their ability to function and eventually die. The proteins that cause the build-up are called beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. They start in the area of the brain involved in memory and thinking, and spread throughout the brain over time. The loss of brain cells causes the areas of the brain to shrink, with the first symptoms often being problems with memory. Scientists don’t know what causes these protein changes in the brain, but they do know that it takes years for them to develop.

People with Alzheimer’s have trouble remembering things and finding words to express themselves. They may also have problems with their movements and balance. In later stages, they can’t take care of themselves or make decisions.

Everyone has occasional memory lapses, but in Alzheimer’s disease the symptoms get worse over time and affect daily life. They may forget names of family members or everyday objects and have difficulty understanding what others are saying. They may put items in the wrong place, misplace their keys or leave food on the stove and begin to have trouble driving a car or paying bills.

Researchers have identified certain genes that increase the risk of getting Alzheimer’s, but they don’t understand why these changes lead to the disease. The disease is more common in people over 65, but it is not a normal part of aging. The chance of developing the condition doubles every five years after age 65. Other factors that raise the risk include having a family history of Alzheimer’s, having poor sleep habits and smoking.

It’s important to see a health professional if you have worsening problems with your memory and thinking. A GP can assess you and refer you to a specialist service if they think you might have Alzheimer’s disease or another condition that causes similar symptoms. They will recommend a range of tests to check for the disease. The tests can help determine whether you have a genetic variant that increases your risk or whether you have the more common type of the disease that doesn’t run in families.

Signs of alzheimer’s disease

People with Alzheimer’s disease gradually lose their ability to think and remember. Eventually, they need help with daily tasks like paying bills or preparing meals. This is because brain cells (neurons) die and the parts of the brain that control memory and thinking skills slowly degrade. The symptoms are different for everyone. They can range from forgetting recent events to getting lost in familiar places. Eventually, the disease can affect a person’s movement, emotions and sense of self.

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease aren’t fully understood, but scientists know that it’s an irreversible condition. In most cases, Alzheimer’s develops over time due to age-related changes and to a breakdown of the brain’s chemicals, known as neurons. This occurs because of the buildup of a sticky protein fragment called beta-amyloid and tangles that block cells’ communication pathways. It’s also because of mutations in certain genes that make a person more likely to get the disease.

A health professional can check for signs of Alzheimer’s by asking questions about a person’s past and present and doing some tests. It is important that anyone who notices a change in their memory or thinking skills gets assessed by a health professional, ideally their GP.

Memory problems are one of the first and most obvious signs of Alzheimer’s, though it may not be the only symptom. Other early symptoms include difficulty finding words, vision and spatial issues (such as losing track of the location of items) and impaired reasoning or judgment.

In the very early stages of Alzheimer’s, symptoms are mild and don’t interfere with a person’s day-to-day activities. This stage is called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). It can be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s, but not everyone with MCI will eventually develop the full-blown disease. In MCI, a person can still function well at work and at home, but they will gradually need more and more help from family members to do the things they usually do for themselves. They will start to repeat themselves, forget appointments or birthdays, and struggle with planning and solving complex problems. They might also have trouble making decisions or following a plan, and they might become more irritable or moody.

Treatment for alzheimer’s disease

If you or a loved one is experiencing memory problems, get checked by a health professional. If the doctor suspects Alzheimer’s disease, they may refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, for further assessment. Early and accurate diagnosis can help you plan for the future, and can also be important to family members who may have to care for someone with the condition.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but medication and changes in the home environment can slow or delay progression of symptoms. Drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration are used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory loss and confusion. They can be taken by mouth or by injection. Some people with Alzheimer’s find that their thinking and communication improve while taking these drugs, and others do not notice any change. There are side effects from these medications, such as sleepiness, diarrhoea, tiredness or muscle cramps, but they do not usually last long.

Research shows that complex brain changes, such as the formation of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, start a decade or more before dementia symptoms appear. This is called preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, and not everyone with these changes will develop dementia. However, people with preclinical Alzheimer’s have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s in later life.

The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. Other symptoms include difficulty finding the right words, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, and poor reasoning or judgment. People with Alzheimer’s typically progress to mild, moderate and severe stages of the disease.

There are treatments to relieve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, which can improve memory and thinking skills for some people. These drugs are most effective in treating people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, and they can be taken for a short or long period of time. There are also antipsychotics, which can reduce agitation, delusions and aggression. These drugs can have serious side effects, including sleepiness, dizziness, falls and confusion, so they should be prescribed only for the shortest possible duration of time.

How to prevent alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s is a progressive condition that slowly destroys memory and other brain functions, eventually leading to severe memory problems and the inability to carry out even simple tasks. The disease is caused by the build-up of two substances in the brain — plaques and tangles. These are made when conditions in the brain aren’t right and cause cells to die, which leads to cognitive decline and eventually loss of mental function. Although there is no cure for the disease, medicines may improve or slow the progression of symptoms. There are also programs and services available to help people with the disease and their families.

There are a number of factors that increase your risk for Alzheimer’s, including having a family history of the disease. Certain gene mutations, such as the apolipoprotein E (APOE) e4 variant, also increase your chances of developing the condition. In addition, chronic health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes increase your risk. The good news is that you can make lifestyle changes to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s.

The first step is to eat well and exercise regularly. A diet low in saturated fats and trans fats and rich in fruits, vegetables, and legumes can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. You should also avoid consuming foods high in salt and sugar. You should also get plenty of sleep and avoid smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. Lastly, you should stay mentally active by joining social groups and taking group classes or trips.

It is important to remember that dementia is not a normal part of aging, and Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in people over 65. It is not clear what causes dementia, but it can be the result of a number of diseases or illnesses that impact the parts of the brain involved in thinking, memory, and decision-making. The disease starts in the brain long before symptoms begin to appear, and it’s possible that some risk factors can be prevented or reduced, such as smoking, obesity, depression, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

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