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Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that causes a progressive decline in thinking, memory, organisation and learning; with time, it starts affecting a person’s ability to carry out basic activities.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes the brain to shrink, and the brain cells will begin to die off. It is the most common cause of dementia; the condition worsens over time, and experts believe that it can take up to 10 years for the symptoms to be noticeable. It commonly affects people who are over 65. 

Causes

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by an abnormal buildup of protein in the brain. These proteins include amyloid and tau proteins, and they cause brain cells to die. The human brain has over 100 billion nerve cells that work together to fulfil all the communication needed to perform various functions such as learning, thinking, learning, memory, etc. Studies have shown that these proteins block the communications between nerve cells and prevent them from carrying out instructions and processes.

The nerve cells begin to die slowly, which results in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease; the death of the cells usually starts from the side of the brain that controls memory before it spreads to other areas.  

Although there has been so much research on this disease, experts still do not know what causes the proteins to build up in the brain, so it is believed to be a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

The symptoms of AD get worse over time, but memory loss is the first symptom that usually develops; it may take months or years to notice this first symptom because it is a progressive disease. 

Here are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:

Memory Loss

This is characterised by difficulty remembering recent events and taking in new information. The person may lose objects, repeat conversations and questions, forget about appointments or events, get lost, or forget directions. 

Problems With Recognition

AD can make it difficult for a person to recognise faces or objects, making it hard to use essential tools. These issues will make it a serious challenge for anyone to function in their daily lives, and it has nothing to do with the person’s eyesight.

Cognitive Deficits

With Alzheimer’s disease, it will be challenging to reason correctly, complete tasks or judge things accurately. This can lead to difficulty making decisions, understanding safety and risks, handling money, paying bills and completing straightforward tasks such as getting dressed. 

Behavioural Changes

With AD, people may experience changes in their behaviour and personality, leading to loss of empathy, anger, anxiety, obsession, compulsion, loss of motivation, or interest in activities they usually enjoy. 

Problems With Spatial Awareness

AD makes it difficult for people to maintain balance and stamina, so they easily spill things, trip over, and have difficulty orienting clothes to their bodies when getting dressed.

Problems With Speaking, Reading and Writing

Ad is also characterised by difficulty thinking and remembering common words, so a person with AD makes many spelling, speech and writing mistakes. 

Treatment

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but some medications help slow down or reduce the symptoms. Early detection and treatment of the condition can also help prevent quick deterioration of the person’s health. 

The treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is highly individualised because the condition is different for everyone; the two approved drugs for treating Alzheimer’s disease include NMDA antagonists and Cholinesterase inhibitors.

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