Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia, resulting in severe loss of memory and cognitive ability and abnormalities in behavioral pattern. Three cardinal factors can be associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s- Age, Genetics and Family history. During the course of the disease, excessive amount of the chemical substance glutamate is released which in turn causes excessive brain cell damage and degeneration. There is no cure for the disease although the rate of damage can be slowed down by proper medication. Mostly people over 65 years of age are the victims of this incurable disease.
Dementia or memory loss is rather a symptom that can be due to a plethora of reasons and Alzheimer’s is one of those. It can also be due to Parkinson’s, traumatic injury etc. In every case, there is degeneration of the nerves resulting in incoordination of activities.
Researchers have primarily identified one gene Apolipoprotein E (APOE) for the onset of Alzheimer’s in older people. The disease is irreversible and leads to severe conditions like loss of speech and basic motor functions. However, in many cases, it is nonidentifiable at the early stages. Present-day city lifestyle often contributes to the onset of this nervous disorder. Therefore a healthy lifestyle is often suggested to avoid chances of Alzheimer’s.
There is no particular diagnostic technique to pinpoint this disease. Doctors mostly rely on the symptoms to diagnose the disease. However, CT scan (Computed tomography scan), PET scan (Positron emission tomography scan) or MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) are often conducted to diagnose the condition of the brain resulting from the Alzheimer’s.
There is no proper medication to cure this disease. However, associated symptoms like depression, hallucination, agitation, aggression etc can be treated by antidepressants, antipsychotics, tranquilizers etc. Doctors often use drugs like donepezil or memantine to treat Alzheimer’s. Memantine is known to reduce the release of glutamate and thereby lessens brain degeneration.
Alzheimer’s patients are to be treated with utmost care, empathy and love. No medication but proper care, disciplined lifestyle, socialization, active participation in cognitive exercises can reduce the damages caused by this disease. Care and love are often seen to produce magical effects on patients. So next time you meet a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, don’t forget to give him a hug and show that you care.