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Health and Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease: Symptoms, Causes, and treatment

Alzheimer’s, a type of dementia, affects memory, thinking and behavior. Oftentimes the effects of Alzheimer’s can influence daily tasks. It alone accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases. It’s a common misconception that Alzheimer’s is a normal part of aging, those who are older are at a higher risk, but nearly 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have been reported to have Alzheimer’s.  

By Manasvi Meka

Published 3:51 PM EST, Sun April 18, 2021

Symptoms

Alzheimer’s is often a slowly progressive disease, so it’s indeed more difficult to spot definitive symptoms. According to Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s include: repeating statements, forgetting conversations, getting lost in familiar places, forgetting names of family members, difficulty concentrating, inability to make a judgment. The effects of Alzheimer’s on the brain can also affect moods and behaviours such as depression, apathy, mood swings, and wandering. Alzheimer’s can still be treated, so it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible.  

Diagnosis

To diagnose the severity of Alzheimer’s doctors run multiple types of tests. They will most probably do a physical and neurological exam by testing: reflexes, muscle tone, coordination, balance, sense of sight and hearing, etc. Doctors are likely to do an MRI scan or a CT scan to produce detailed images of brian.  

Causes

While the exact cause of Alzheimer’s isn’t fully understood, the idea is that the brain proteins tend to fail to function properly, which then disrupts the work of neurons. When neurons are damaged, they eventually lose connections and die. In many ways, Alzheimer’s is connected to a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. 

Treatment 

There are two types of drugs that are currently used to help with Alzheimer’s:

Cholinesterase Inhibitors – Cholinesterase inhibitors aim to increase communication between the nerve cells to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  

Memantine – Decreases the abnormal brain activity, it also improves the ability to think and slows down the loss of abilities for people who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. 

In conclusion, Alzheimer’s disease is a common yet disheartening disease that affects a living body of people across the world. Although there aren’t direct solutions, treatment can improve it. Make sure to contact your local doctor if the symptoms seen above persist. 

Manasvi Meka, Youth Medical Journal 2021

References

“What is Alzheimer’s Disease?.” CDC, 02 Jun. 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm Accessed 24 Mar. 2020. 

“Alzheimer’s Disease.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 29 Dec. 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20350447 Accessed 29 Mar. 2020. 

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a604006.html#:~:text=Memantine%20is%20in%20a%20class,in%20people%20who%20have%20AD. Accessed 28 Mar. 2020. 

“How Do Drugs for Alzheimer’s Disease Work?” Alzheimer’s Society. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/treatments/drugs/how-do-drugs-alzheimers-disease-work Accessed 26 Mar. 2020. 

“Memantine: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

By Manasvi Meka

Manasvi is a freshman in high school in Oregon. She is currently interested in biology, chemistry, and medicine.

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