Dementia is an umbrella term for a wide range of medical conditions. It is mainly based on abnormal brain changes which trigger a decline in cognitive abilities. They affect the daily activities of a person, including their independent activities, behavior, and feelings.
This article will look into its various types, diagnosis, and dementia treatment in India.
Types of Dementia
1. Alzheimer’s Disease– It is a progressive disorder that causes degeneration in the brain cells of a person and their final death.
It is the most common type of dementia where there is a decline in the memory, thinking, and social skills of a person. The initial symptom in Alzheimer’s disease is forgetfulness of recent events.
It can lead to permanent loss of memory and inability to carry out everyday tasks. There is no treatment that can permanently cure Alzheimer’s diseases. The advanced stage of the disease consists of severe loss of brain functions resulting in malnutrition, infection, and death.
2. Vascular Dementia– It affects the reasoning, planning, memory, and judgment skills of a person. They are mainly caused due to damage in the brain and restricted flow of blood to the brain. It is usually caused after a stroke when there is a blockage in the blood flow from the artery to the brain.
Factors that affect heart diseases also increase the risk of vascular dementia. They include cholesterol, smoking, blood pressure, and diabetes.
3. Lewy body dementia– LBD is a disease caused due to abnormal deposits of alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits are known as Lewy bodies, which affects the chemical composition of the brain. This can cause changes in the movement, thinking capacity, behavior, and mood of a person.
The early symptoms can be confusing with those of Alzheimer’s or Schizophrenia. The diagnosis for LBD includes dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s disease dementia.
4. Parkinson’s Disease– It is a progressive neurological disorder that mainly affects the movement of a person. Dopamine produced in the part of the brain called “substantia nigra” is responsible for the coordinated movement of the body.
Parkinson’s occurs when the dopamine level reduces due to the degeneration of substantia nigra. The major symptoms include tremors and stiffness in the body, slow movements, and loss of balance. Depression, hallucinations, blank expressions, low volume speech are other symptoms.
5. Frontotemporal Dementia– It is a collective term for common brain disorders affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. They are associated with the personality, behavior, and language of a person. In frontotemporal dementia, the portion of the frontotemporal brain shrinks.
The signs and symptoms are based on the part of the brain that is affected. The person with this dementia becomes socially inappropriate, emotionally impulsive, and indifferent. They would also have problems with communication problems. It is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or other psychiatric problems.
6. Creutzfeldt-Jakob– It is also known as subacute spongiform encephalopathy or neurocognitive disorder. It is a fatal degenerative brain disorder that results in memory problems, poor coordination, behavioral changes, visual problems, and movement problems.
CJD is caused by a prion which is a protein. Infectious prions which are usually misfolded proteins cause normally folded proteins to also become misfolded. This can be diagnosed through an electroencephalogram, spinal tap, and magnetic resonance imaging. There are no specific treatments for CJD.
However, opioids are used to help with the pain while sodium valproates are used for involuntary movements.
7. Wernicke-Korsakoff- WKS is a neurological disorder where Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis are the acute and chronic phases. It is caused due to Vitamin B thiamine which plays a major role in metabolizing glucose to produce energy in the brain.
The absence of thiamine can affect the hypothalamus which controls a lot of bodily functions. The symptoms of the disease include impaired short-term memory, mental confusion, agitations, ataxia slow walking, and paralysis of eye muscles.
It can be diagnosed through MRI and CT scans. It can be treated if diagnosed early. The treatment includes thiamine replacement therapies.
8. Mixed dementia- It is a condition where there is a simultaneous occurrence of more than one type of dementia in the brain. The most common form is the combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Alzheimer’s can also occur with Lewy bodies.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of dimension is very complicated as there is no one particular method. Doctors analyze the patterns of behavior of the patients and engage in a series of tests like Cognitive and Neuropsychological tests, Brain Scans, Laboratory Tests, and psychiatric evaluation.
Dementia treatment in India is mainly a combination of medications and therapies. Medications like Memantine and Cholinesterase Inhibitors can have a temporary improvement in the symptoms of dementia. The therapies include occupational therapy, modification of the living environment of the patient, and simplification of the daily tasks.
People also engage in various other therapies like music, art and crafts, aromatherapy, light exercises, and many more. Some believe that dietary supplements and herbal remedies can help with the disease. However, there is no scientific proof for this yet.