Dementia is not a disease but a group of symptoms that are indicative of memory loss, diminished thinking ability, and social skills. If these symptoms interfere with your daily life, you should seek medical help. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common reason for dementia in older adults. Dementia could also be caused due to various other reasons. Mentioned below are the symptoms and causes of dementia.
Symptoms of dementia
Dementia primarily affects cognition and psychology, and the consequent changes are listed below.
- Memory loss
- Difficulty finding commonly used words
- Impaired reasoning and logical ability
- Difficulty handling complex tasks
- Having a tough time planning and organizing events
- Difficulty with motor functions and coordination
- Personality changes
- Behaving inappropriately
Causes of dementia
Dementia is the effect of damaged nerve cells in the brain. The severity depends on the area that is affected and the extent of damage. In cases when dementia is caused due to medications or vitamin deficiencies, the symptoms usually reverse after the patient is treated and returns to normalcy. There could be various other causes like:
Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common reason for dementia in adults above the age of 65. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s however is unknown. The brain of Alzheimer’s patients has plaques (deposition of beta-amyloid protein) and tangles (deposition of tau protein). Dementia caused due to this is often irreversible.
Vascular dementia: If the blood vessels that carry blood to the brain are damaged, it results in vascular dementia, which is an irreversible condition.
Traumatic brain injury: People who are subjected to repetitive injuries to the head often experience dementia. These include people in defense, boxers, football players, and so on. Based on the part of the brain that is subjected to trauma, the patient might show symptoms like depression, slurred speech, slow movements, rigidity, and memory loss.
Huntington’s disease: Huntington’s disease may affect individuals in their 30s and 40s. The disease is caused due to a genetic mutation that impairs the functioning of certain parts of the brain and spinal cord. This causes severe decline in cognitive functioning accompanied by various physical symptoms.
Immune disorders and infections: Autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis can lead to dementia. It is the condition in which the body’s immunity system attacks nerve cells, resulting in memory loss. Infections like fever can also cause dementia in some cases. This is a result of your body fighting off the infection and not focusing on the memory loss part.
Nutritional deficiencies: Dementia-like symptoms are seen in people who have vitamin B1, B6, and B12 deficiencies. It is usually seen in people who are chronic alcoholics. Not hydrating yourself sufficiently is another cause for dementia.
Hormonal problems: People with thyroid disorder, low blood sugar, and with less/more sodium and calcium levels in the body might show symptoms of dementia. People who are not able to efficiently absorb vitamin B12 may also suffer from dementia.
Apart from these, factors like age, family history, and Down syndrome put one at a higher risk of developing dementia.