Some dementias are reversible. It’s something we don’t hear every day but need, isn’t it? Unfortunately, the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, is not reversible, but it’s important to understand that not all dementias lead to the mind-changing, life-changing disease with which up to 5.8 million Americans and their families live each day. .
Rule out Alzheimer’s disease
I have stressed over and over again in this column the critical importance of a correct diagnosis, most often with regard to Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, a correct diagnosis puts a patient with Alzheimer’s on the right track to receive the care and medication needed to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle in their condition.
Early diagnosis could help prevent the disease from progressing very quickly. However, diagnosis by a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner is just as imperative for someone with symptoms of dementia unrelated to Alzheimer’s disease. Their symptoms could be reversed if the diagnosis indicates anything other than Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia encompasses a wide range of health problems. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these are “caused by abnormal brain changes” that trigger a decline in cognitive abilities. Thinking skills are impaired enough to interrupt a person’s ability to function, even with normal daily activities. Behavior, emotions and relationships are affected. Basically, something is wrong.
Reversible non-Alzheimer’s dementias
If you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, the following culprits may be involved. Consider the following and see a doctor before assuming symptoms are the first steps on a path to Alzheimer’s disease.
Over-the-counter medications can affect mood and behavior. Your primary care doctor may order blood tests to determine if you are over-medicated or under-medicated. In addition, different drugs and even vitamins and supplements can interact with each other. If symptoms of dementia occur as a result of a new medication, it is worth checking out. Additionally, weight loss or gain can affect the way drugs are absorbed by the body. Medications may need to be adjusted if you or a loved one has been through either. However, this is something only a doctor can determine. Adjusting your own medications can have negative and even life-threatening results.
Narcotics and alcohol
Using illegal drugs or excessive alcohol can lead to symptoms of dementia. Talk to a mental health professional or addiction counselor if addiction is a problem for you or a loved one. Combine this conversation with a visit to your primary care doctor to get to the bottom of the problem. The longer you delay it, the less likely the symptoms are to reverse, as alcohol abuse and illegal narcotics can cause brain damage.
Not eating properly can lead to dementia, or at least its symptoms. Our bodies depend on good nutrition to produce energy for bodily functions, including gray matter. A lack of essential vitamins can lead to hypoglycemia, which affects the functioning of the brain. Folate and vitamin B12, for example, are essential nutrients. Examine your eating habits and seek the help of a nutritionist if your healthcare professional finds vitamin deficiencies after a blood test.
If you or a loved one is confused and has trouble navigating normal daily activities, another health issue could be the cause of the ensuing dementia. For example, heart or lung disease can prevent enough oxygen from reaching the brain, which is of course crucial.
Thought processes and emotions can also be affected by hormonal changes. Dysfunction of the thyroid and parathyroid glands can create symptoms of dementia. Also, don’t be surprised that infections in the body can do the same.
Symptoms of dementia caused by each of the above conditions can often be reversed, but again, diagnosis is the first and most crucial step, just like in developing a plan to fight dementia. Alzheimer’s.
To note: Alzheimer’s news today is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a health problem. Never disregard professional medical advice or be slow to seek it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s news today or its parent company, BioNews, and aim to spark discussion on issues relating to Alzheimer’s disease.