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    Alzheimer’s Vs Dementia: What Is The Difference?

    Alzheimer's Vs Dementia

    Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia are responsible for memory loss and cognitive impairment. They are among the leading causes of death in the world.

    According to WHO, Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases. It is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people globally.

    Learning the difference between these two terms is important. This can provide the necessary information to the families of those suffering from these diseases.

    In this article, we are going to cover everything that you need to know about Alzheimer’s vs Dementia

    Alzheimer’s diseaseDementia 
    Symptoms
    Loss of memory
    Mood swings
    Personality changes
    Confusion
    Difficulty in speaking or writing
    Difficulty to complete daily tasks
    Losing track of time
    Loss of memory
    Hallucinations
    Changes in motor function
    Temporary paralysis
    Apathy
    Repetition Poor judgment skills
    Stages
    Mild
    Moderate
    Severe
    Mild
    Moderate
    Severe
    Causes
    A build-up of beta-amyloid protein in the brain.
    Change in the shape of tau protein.
    Environmental and lifestyle factors.
    Neurodegenerative diseases
    Brain injury
    Formation of Lewy bodies (clumps of alpha-synuclein protein) in the brain
    Diagnosis
    Physical tests
    Lab tests
    MRICT scan
    PET exam
    Physical tests
    Lab tests
    CT, MRI, PET
    Treatment
    Cholinesterase inhibitors
    NMDA antagonist
    Cholinesterase inhibitors
    Therapies like Reminiscence therapy and CST

    Are Dementia And Alzheimer’s The Same Thing?

    Are Dementia And Alzheimer's The Same Thing?

    Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia may seem the same but in reality, they are different. Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent type of Dementia. It is a phrase that refers to memory loss and other cognitive impairments severe enough to interfere with everyday living.

    Dementia is a term that encompasses symptoms that affect memory, and communication abilities.

    Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain illness that causes complex brain alterations, occurring as a result of cell death. This disease is just one of several varieties of Dementia.

    Currently, there is no cure but treatments are available to improve quality of life.

    What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

    What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

    Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that impairs memory function. The majority of people with late-onset type experience symptoms in their mid-60s.

    Information cannot transfer between different areas of the brain, or between the brain and muscles or organs. This is because of a lack of connection between the neurons in the brain.

    The common symptoms of this disease include

    1. Memory loss

    2. Aggressive behavior

    3. Trouble speaking.

    Individuals’ cannot remember recent events and give logical reasoning. The ability to identify people they know also deteriorates as the symptoms intensify.

    Alzheimer’s Symptoms

    1. Loss of memory

    Individuals may have difficulty retaining new information and remembering things in general. This can lead to forgetfulness or repetition of actions. 

    1.  Personality changes 

    Individuals’ demeanor and conduct may alter such as being more disturbed, angry, or anxious than before.

    1.  Confusion

    Individuals may feel lost and, complicated activities and judgment may be challenging for them.

    1. Difficulty in speaking or writing

    Individuals’ ability to remember common words may deteriorate, or they may make more spelling or writing errors.

    Alzheimer’s Stages

    1. Mild – Mild forgetfulness is one of the symptoms at this stage. Mild forgetfulness is one of the symptoms at this stage. This may appear to be the slight amnesia that many people experience as they become older. However, it may also cause concentration issues.
    1. Moderate – This stage can last many years. Symptoms include increased difficulty in remembering names and problems with reading and writing.
    1. Severe –  Individuals may require full-time assistance with all the activities. There is a loss of physical abilities like walking and reading and bowel control. They can also become completely oblivious to their surroundings.

    Alzheimer’s Causes

    Factors that cause Alzheimer’s are very unclear. Brain proteins, malfunction, altering the function of brain cells (neurons) and setting off a chain of damaging events.

    Neurons eventually lose their connections with each other and die.  A combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible for Alzheimer’s.

    An improper build-up of proteins in and around brain cells is the origin of Alzheimer’s. These proteins are amyloid proteins that form plaques that surround brain cells.

    There is another protein called tau, responsible for making deposits in neurons. Scientists have determined that this process begins several years before symptoms appear.

    When brain cells die, chemical messengers that are crucial for sending messages, or signals between them shrink.

    How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed?

    Doctors analyze symptoms and do many tests to identify Alzheimer’s disease.

    A correct diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is the first step in getting the treatment, and care you need.

    1. Medical history

    The health care practitioner will check the person’s medical history and a history of behavioral problems.

    They will want to hear about any current or previous medical issues or concerns.

    The doctor will also inquire about other family members’ medical issues.

    1. Muscle action
    1. Reflexes
    2. Tone and strength of muscles
    3. Coordination

    3. Lab tests

    A Precivity AD test checks the levels of proteins in the blood such as beta-amyloid and Apo E. The presence or absence of plaques in the brain can affect the likelihood of an imaging examination detecting plaques in the brain.

    4. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

    MRI creates clear pictures of the brain by using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.

    MRI can identify brain abnormalities linked to moderate cognitive impairment (MCI). It can also predict which MCI patients will acquire Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

    In the latter stages, an MRI may reveal a reduction in the size of several brain locations.

    5. Tomography using a computer (CT)

    A CT scan for Alzheimer’s disease has two purposes. The first is, to rule out diseases that are similar to Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Tumors, hemorrhages, and strokes are examples of them.

    CT scans can also identify the reduction of brain mass associated with Alzheimer’s. Amyloid plaques arise when abnormal quantities of a protein called amyloid build up in the brain.

    Alzheimer’s can damage neurons and plaques, causing the brain to shrink. A CT scan will reveal shrinkage to your doctor.

    6. Particle emission tomography (PET)

    A certain form of PET scan may be able to identify Alzheimer’s disease plaques in the brain.

    Radioactive tracers in the PET scans show amyloid protein plaques in the brain. They are a characteristic of this prevalent form of Dementia.

    They might help doctors detect Alzheimer’s sooner, even before symptoms occur. Many people with amyloid plaques in their brains, however, do not have Alzheimer’s.

    How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Treated?

    Currently, two types of medications treat cognitive symptoms:

    1. Cholinesterase inhibitors

    These medications function by conserving a chemical messenger in the brain by Alzheimer’s disease. This raises the levels of cell-to-cell communication. The majority of patients see very minor improvements in their symptoms.

    Cholinesterase inhibitors may also help with neuropsychiatric issues. These may include agitation, and poor mental health with depression. Doctors usually prescribe Donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine, and Razadyne ER (galantamine), among others as cholinesterase inhibitors.

    These medications function by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase.

    Acetylcholine is a substance that aids in the communication of nerve cells. Some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include low levels of acetylcholine.

    These drugs raise the levels of acetylcholine in the brain by inhibiting the enzyme. This rise assists people with this disease in enhancing their memory.  Some of the behavioral symptoms they experience are also minimized.

    Diarrhea, nausea, lack of appetite, and sleep difficulties are the common adverse effects. Cardiac arrhythmia can occur in persons with certain heart conditions.

    1. NMDA antagonist

    The majority of Alzheimer’s medications maintain high acetylcholine levels. This keeps the brain cells firing and can halt disease progression. There is one NMDA receptor antagonist -Memantine, authorized in the United States and Europe. It’s found to be effective in people with mild to severe Alzheimer’s.

    When NMDA receptors are overactive, memantine inhibits them. Doctors prescribe Memantine on its own or combined with a cholinesterase inhibitor. In individuals with advanced illness, combining memantine with a cholinesterase inhibitor leads to moderate improvements.

    It keeps nerve cells healthy by preventing the neurotransmitter glutamate from activating NMDA receptors.

    What Is Dementia?

    The primary difference when it comes to Alzheimer’s vs Dementia is in their definitions.

    Dementia is a condition in which a person’s remembering, and reasoning interfere with daily life. A variety of factors are responsible for Dementia.

    When the regions of your brain for learning, memory, decision-making, and language fall sick, it results in Dementia.

    Although Dementia mostly affects the elderly, it is not a natural part of the aging process. Currently, more than 55 million individuals worldwide suffer from Dementia.

    How Many Stages Of Dementia Exist?

    1. Mild

    A person with Alzheimer’s disease can operate independently in the early stages. He or she can continue to drive, work, and participate in social events.

    Despite this, the person may experience memory lapses, such as forgetting common phrases.

    1. Moderate

    Moderate Dementia patients will very certainly require greater support in their daily lives. As Dementia advances, it becomes more difficult to conduct routine daily activities. During this time, you may experience the following symptoms:

    • Ambiguity or bad judgment
    • Increased memory loss
    • Requiring assistance with daily duties such as dressing, washing, and grooming.
    • Severe personality and behavior changes, typically resulting from anxiety.
    1. Severe

    In the case of severe dementia, people suffer greater mental deterioration and physical inability. Dementia with severe symptoms can lead to

    • A lack of communication for daily support with chores like eating and dressing.
    • Increased difficulty in walking, sitting, swallowing, and controlling bowel function. 
    • Increased vulnerability to infections such as pneumonia.

    What Causes Of Dementia?

    1. Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s
    2. Lewy bodies

    Dementia with Lewy bodies is a kind of Dementia caused by protein aggregates in the brain. Lewy body Dementia can induce the following symptoms: Sleep disruptions, hallucinations, and other movement problems

    1. Brain injuries increase the risk of Dementia.

    How Is Dementia Diagnosed?

    Doctors identify the disease of Dementia, based on physical examination, and laboratory testing.

    1. Lab tests

    Doctors conduct laboratory tests to diagnose Dementia and/or rule out other illnesses.

    A complete blood count, blood glucose test, urinalysis, drug, and alcohol testing, cerebrospinal fluid analysis (to rule out particular illnesses that might impact the brain), and thyroid and thyroid-stimulating hormone levels analysis are just a few of the tests available.

    1. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

    MRI creates clear photographs of the brain to identify and diagnose brain problems.

    To improve the photographs, contrast material is sometimes injected into an arm vein. An MRI of the head can also identify whether or not a stroke has recently occurred.

    1. Tomography using a computer (CT)

    The CT scan of the head combines advanced computer technology with specialized x-ray equipment to create photos of the inside of the head.

    CT scans can easily identify Dementia-related atrophy. They also offer extensive information on head traumas, strokes, and other brain conditions. To improve the photographs, contrast material is sometimes injected into an arm vein.

    1. Particle emission tomography (PET)

    PET is a diagnostic procedure that employs a small quantity of radioactive material to diagnose the severity of a range of illnesses.

    PET with CT or MRI offers detailed information on the brain’s function as well as its anatomy.

    How Is Dementia Treated?

    The same drugs for dementia are effective to treat Alzheimer’s.

    1. Cholinesterase inhibitors

    Donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine slow the degradation of a brain chemical involved in memory and judgment.

    Memantine regulates a different brain chemical that is important for learning and memory.  Doctors give a combination of memantine and donepezil to patients with dementia.

    1. Therapies

    Medicines for Dementia constitute only one aspect of Dementia therapy. Other therapies, activities, and support are just as vital in assisting individuals with Dementia to live well.

    1. Reminiscence therapy

    Talking with your loved one about their hometown, school days, job life, or favorite pastimes may be part of reminiscence therapy. It can be one-on-one or in groups as part of a structured therapy program.

    The person leading the session may use music from your loved one’s history, as well as materials like pictures or beloved mementos, to assist.

    1. Cognitive stimulation treatment (CST)

    CST (cognitive stimulation treatment) is participating in group activities and exercises to

    1. Improve Problem-solving abilities
    2. Improve the ability to communicate

    How Does Dementia Affect Your Vision?

    How Does Dementia Affect Your Vision?

    Dementia, like Alzheimer’s, can have a range of effects on your vision, depending on how the disease affects the brain’s structure. Here are some instances of frequent visual perception issues:

    1. Reduced Sensitivity to contrast variations between objects and backgrounds.
    2. Reduced ability to notice movement and distinguish different colors
    3. Difficulties focusing or shifting gaze
    4. Difficulties recognizing things and faces

    How Does Alzheimer’s Affect Your Vision?

    How Does Alzheimer's Affect Your Vision?

    Alzheimer’s disease can affect one’s vision in a number of ways. It has the ability to change how the brain interprets images acquired by the eyes. Visual problems can make it more difficult for Alzheimer’s patients to survive. This can be:

    • Problem with color discrimination.
    • Reduced recognition of objects
    • Peripheral vision impairment

    Why Is An Eye Test Necessary?

    Why Is An Eye Test Necessary?

    Eye exams detect long- and short-sightedness, glaucoma, and general eye health. According to a recent study, your optician may be able to determine whether or not you are at risk of Dementia.

    Dementia causes brain damage that begins years before symptoms manifest. An optician can detect abnormalities in the back of the eye during a specialist examination.

    People with thin retinas have more difficulty with mental function and reasoning.

    Wrapping Up

    A combination of probable vision problems caused by Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia can affect your vision. It’s important to reduce the chance of developing new visual disorders. 

    Routine eye exams, as directed by your eye doctor, are also essential. Comprehensive eye exams aid in the early detection of visual issues.

    Finally, people with these should strive to live a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables as well as receiving safe, regular exercise, can enhance eye health.

    Consult your family doctor or a neurologist if you’re concerned about memory loss or Dementia.  You can visit an ophthalmologist if you have concerns about your eyesight or eyes.

    Have any questions about Alzheimer’s vs Dementia? Comment below!

    FAQs

    1. Can Dementia kill you?

    Dementia is a slow disease that eventually leads to death.  The brain and the body cannot cope with the harm produced by the loss of cognitive function.

    1. Can Dementia come on suddenly?

    Symptoms of Vascular Dementia may develop suddenly and get worse.

    1. Can you tell if someone has Dementia by their eyes?

    An eye test carried out by opticians can be a screening tool to detect Dementia.

    1. Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?

    People whose parents have Alzheimer’s are at an increased risk of acquiring the disease. However, the genetic component of the disease is still not fully understood.

    1. How to reduce the risk of Dementia?

    It is possible to reduce the risk of Dementia by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating a well-balanced diet and regularly exercising can reduce the chances of Dementia.

    1. What is Dementia-related psychosis?

    People with Dementia-related psychosis experience hallucinations and delusional thinking. Hallucinations can be visual, auditory, or olfactory.

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