Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia – a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently.
Memory loss is the key symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. Early signs include difficulty remembering recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, memory impairments worsen and other symptoms develop.
At first, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may be aware of having difficulty remembering things and organizing thoughts. A family member or friend may be more likely to notice how the symptoms worsen.
Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease lead to growing trouble with: Memory
Everyone has occasional memory lapses, but the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease persists and worsens, affecting the ability to function at work or at home.
People With Alzheimer’s May:
- Repeat statements and questions over and over
- Forget conversations, appointments or events, and not remember them later
- Routinely misplace possessions, often putting them in illogical locations
- Get lost in familiar places
- Eventually forget the names of family members and everyday objects
- Have trouble finding the right words to identify objects, express thoughts or take part in conversations
Thinking and reasoning
Alzheimer’s disease causes difficulty concentrating and thinking, especially about abstract concepts such as numbers.
Multitasking is especially difficult, and it may be challenging to manage finances, balance checkbooks and pay bills on time. Eventually, a person with Alzheimer’s may be unable to recognize and deal with numbers.Making judgments and decisions.
Alzheimer’s causes a decline in the ability to make reasonable decisions and judgments in everyday situations. For example, a person may make poor or uncharacteristic choices in social interactions or wear clothes that are inappropriate for the weather. It may be more difficult to respond effectively to everyday problems, such as food burning on the stove or unexpected driving situations.
Planning And Performing Familiar Tasks
Once-routine activities that require sequential steps, such as planning and cooking a meal or playing a favorite game, become a struggle as the disease progresses. Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer’s often forget how to perform basic tasks such as dressing and bathing.
Changes In Personality And Behavior
Brain changes that occur in Alzheimer’s disease can affect moods and behaviors.
Problems may include the following:
- Social withdrawal
- Mood swings
- Distrust in others
- Irritability and aggressiveness
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Loss of inhibitions
- Delusions, such as believing something has been stolen
Many important skills are preserved for longer periods even while symptoms worsen. Preserved skills may include reading or listening to books, telling stories and reminiscing, singing, listening to music, dancing, drawing, or doing crafts.
These skills may be preserved longer because they are controlled by parts of the brain affected later in the course of the disease.
The exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease aren’t fully understood. But at a basic level, brain proteins fail to function normally, which disrupts the work of brain cells (neurons) and triggers a series of toxic events. Neurons are damaged, lose connections to each other and eventually die.
The damage most often starts in the region of the brain that controls memory, but the process begins years before the first symptoms. The loss of neurons spreads in a somewhat predictable pattern to other regions of the brains. By the late stage of the disease, the brain has shrunk significantly.
Alzheimer’s disease are focused on the role of two proteins:
- Plaques. Beta-amyloid is a fragment of a larger protein. When these fragments cluster together, they appear to have a toxic effect on neurons and to disrupt cell- to-cell communication. These clusters form larger deposits called amyloid plaques, which also include other cellular debris.
- Tangles. Tau proteins play a part in a neuron’s internal support and transport system to carry nutrients and other essential materials. In Alzheimer’s disease, tau proteins change shape and organize themselves into structures called neurofibrillary tangles. The tangles disrupt the transport system and are toxic to cells.
Age: Increasing age is the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is not a part of normal aging, but as you grow older the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases. There were four new diagnoses per 1,000 people ages 65 to 74, 32 new diagnoses per 1,000 people ages 75 to 84, and 76 new diagnoses per 1,000 people age 85 and older.
Family History And Genetics: Alzheimer’s is somewhat higher if a first-degree relative – your parent or sibling – has the disease. Most genetic mechanisms of Alzheimer’s among families remain largely unexplained, and the genetic factors are likely complex.
Down syndrome: Many people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is likely related to having three copies of chromosome 21 – and subsequently three copies of the gene for the protein that leads to the creation of beta-amyloid. Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s tend to appear 10 to 20 years earlier in people with Down syndrome than they do for the general population.
Sex: There appears to be little difference in risk between men and women, but, overall, there are more women with the disease because they generally live longer than men.
Mild Cognitive Impairment: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a decline in memory or other thinking skills that is greater than normal for a person’s age, but the decline doesn’t prevent a person from functioning in social or work environments.
People who have MCI have a significant risk of developing dementia. When the primary MCI deficit is memory, the condition is more likely to progress to dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. A diagnosis of MCI encourages a greater focus on healthy lifestyle changes, developing strategies to make up for memory loss and scheduling regular doctor appointments to monitor symptoms.
Head Trauma: People who’ve had a severe head trauma have a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Several large studies found that in people age 50 years or older who had a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease increased. The risk increases in people with more-severe and multiple TBIs. Some studies indicate that the risk may be greatest within the first six months to two years after the TBI.
Air Pollution: Studies in animals have indicated that air pollution particulates can speed degeneration of the nervous system. And human studies have found that air pollution exposure – particularly from traffic exhaust and burning wood – is associated with greater dementia risk.
Excessive alcohol consumption: Drinking large amounts of alcohol has long been known to cause brain changes. Several large studies and reviews found that alcohol use disorders were linked to an increased risk of dementia, particularly early-onset dementia.
Poor Sleep Patterns: Research has shown that poor sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Lifestyle And Heart Health: Research has shown that the same risk factors associated with heart disease may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These include:
- Lack of exercise
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes
Memory and language loss, impaired judgment and other cognitive changes caused by Alzheimer’s can complicate treatment for other health conditions. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to:
- Communicate that he or she is experiencing pain
- Explain symptoms of another illness
- Follow a prescribed treatment plan
- Explain medication side effects
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses to its last stages, brain changes begin to affect physical functions, such as swallowing, balance, and bowel and bladder control. These effects can increase vulnerability to additional health problems such as:
- Inhaling food or liquid into the lungs (aspiration)
- Flu, pneumonia and other infections
- Malnutrition or dehydration• Constipation or diarrhea
- Dental problems such as mouth sores or tooth decay
Nux Vomica: Disposition to find fault with everything and everybody; extreme sensitiveness to the words and attention of others, inclination to kill his best friends; wants to commit suicide but is too cowardly to do so; very irritable, quarrelsome, vindictive.
Mercurius: Complete loss of all sense of decency; filthy in body with groveling mentality; great weakness of memory; impaired vision; foul breath; heavy coated tongue.
Ignatia: Extreme mental sensitiveness due to grief, disappointment in love affairs
Calcarea Carb: Complete lack of development of brain and other organs with forgetfulness. Slowness and inability to acquire knowledge.
Lycopodium: Great depression of spirits; despondent; worried about his salvation; about being able to perform his duties; about passing in examination, fretful, irritable, morose, very vehement and angry. Constipation, eructations of sour food.
Staphisagria: Sleeplessness. Coward with shamefulness, disgust, humiliation, despair, shyness with desire for solitude.
Chamomilla: Sensitiveness; irritability, peevishness; very easily angered and suffers profoundly as a result thereof.
Tarantula: Rages over something and throws whatever in hand and whatever he could reach. On slightest contradiction or objection he will hit the person with whatever he can get hold of.
Baryta Carb: Specially indicated in old age. Loss of memory, mental weakness. Irresolute. Lost confidence in himself. Senile dementia. Confusion. Bashful. Aversion to strangers. Childish; grief over trifles
Conium: Conium is used to treat the elderly for depression, shyness and fear of being alone. The remedy treats memory loss, as well as relieving the mental confusion and loss of cognitive function that sets in as a result of grief over the loss of a spouse. Conium often helps people regain the ability to concentrate and focus.Tags: Alzheimer And Homoeopathy