More than a hundred years ago a German man known as Dr. Alois Alzheimer discovered, while performing an autopsy on the brain of a woman who had suffered from dementia, an entanglement of fibers and plaque surrounding the brain cells of this woman's brain. Today the disease carries the name of this German physician and it is called Alzheimer's disease also known as AD. During the 1960's it was discovered that is was not the same as the normal aging type of dementia and was classified as a disease separate from that process. Since the 1990's, Alzheimer's disease has been studied intensely and several medications have been produced to help treat the symptoms. There is no cure for AD but the medications can slow down the progress of the disease.
Symptoms of Alzheimer's
In the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease some symptoms could manifest as confusion, attention to detail, changes in personality, or short term memory loss. They are normally mild in the beginning but become progressively worse. Those with the disease may forget to take their medications or simple things like how to button a shirt. As the disease progresses the Alzheimer's symptoms become much worse. There may be erratic behavior, inability to control bodily functions, and memory worsens greatly. Many patients will wonder off, be unable to manage their own affairs, such as paying bills, losing items, asking the same things over and over or tell the same stories repetitively. They may also show signs of poor judgment as well as personality changes. As the disease worsens the Alzheimer's patient may no longer recognize those people in his life that he has known forever. They may have no memory of the past. At this point they may no longer be able to live alone and care for themselves. They may need assistance feeding and grooming themselves. Sometimes they recognize what is going on and become depressed or withdrawn as the Alzheimer's symptoms worsen. In the latter stage of the disease the patient will require more sleep. They may not be able to speak, feed themselves and have loss of bowel and bladder control. Memory can be totally non-existent at this point. Their immune system becomes much weaker making them targets for other diseases and illnesses.
Treatment for Alzheimer's
As there is no cure, Alzheimer's treatment is only successful in slowing down the process and by managing some of it's symptoms. Medication may be prescribed to help with agitation, hallucinations, anxiety, and depression. Some of the common medications used for treatment are: Armidex, Cognex, Aricept, Excelon and Razadyne. These medications can have many side affects such as muscle weakness, upset stomach, loss of appetite, weight loss, or drowsiness. There are many studies currently be conducted vigorously to come up with more Alzheimer's treatment options.
Causes of Alzheimer's
Aging is the biggest risk factor for acquiring Alzheimer's disease. At the age of 65, ten percent of the population will acquire the disease, while those over the age of 85 stand a 50% chance. By the year 2050 it is expected that 14 million people will be afflicted with the disease. Other contributors are genetic in nature. When people develop the disease in their fourth or fifth decade of life it is believed to be attributed to genetic factors. For children of those with this genetic risk factor their chances of acquring the disease is 50%. Other Alzheimer's disease causes may be coronary artery disease, hypertension, or high blood cholesterol. Studies show that all down's syndrome patients will develop the condition by the age of 40. Most who suffer from Alzheimer's disease die from other complications, such as heart disease or pneumonia rather than from the disease itself.