Have you ever wondered what the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia? Or do you still mistakenly believe that they are the same thing. Because in both of these diseases, we are talking about memory impairment in older people. However, there are still differences, and they are pretty evident for medical professionals. Every year, many people suffer from one and the other misfortune; this figure is growing every year. According to forecasts, in 30 years, the number of cases will double.
Let’s try to figure out what the differences are. In short, it’s like the difference between high fever and the flu. Fever is not a disease but a symptom that occurs when you get the flu. But the presence of a high temperature is possible with acute respiratory viral infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, rheumatism, or acute inflammatory diseases, such as the bladder and kidneys.
So dementia is, first of all, not a disease, but a syndrome (a set of symptoms) caused by organic damage to the brain (usually of a chronic or progressive nature), in which many cognitive functions are impaired. These include memory, thinking, orientation, understanding, counting, learning ability, speech and judgment.
The symptoms of dementia are caused by various medical conditions that affect the brain. There are more than 130 diseases in the world that cause impairment of the functions of the cognitive apparatus.
The most common causes of dementia :
- Alzheimer’s disease (accounts for about 70% of all manifestations of dementia)
- Vascular dementia (the result of a cerebrovascular accident due to stroke – 20% of the signs of dementia)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Frontotemporal degeneration (Pick’s disease)
- Huntington’s disease (Huntington’s chorea)
- Diffuse Lewy body disease
we call these diseases “neurodegenerative diseases” because of the similarity in many ways.
There is a widespread belief that dementia is an irreversible decline in cognitive functions, a loss of short-term memory caused by organic damage to the brain. However, this is not entirely true. Some of the diseases that lead to dementia are curable. If you start the treatment on time, you can preserve many of their cognitive functions. Therefore, at the first sign of dementia, you should always see your doctor.
What is the main difference between Alzheimer’s and other diseases that lead to dementia?
Different neurodegenerative diseases have other early signs of dementia. They depend on which part of the brain is affected. Then, with the development of the disease itself, these differences are erased.
In Alzheimer’s disease, short-term memory is the first to suffer. The disease develops slowly and can take several years. But memory degradation is going on steadily.
In Pick’s disease, affect the frontotemporal regions of the brain. This disease often occurs before the age of 65 and refers to dementia with an earlier onset. At the beginning of the disease, it is not memory disorders that predominate, as in Alzheimer’s disease, but disturbances in behavior, speech and emotional disorders, difficulties with planning and solving various problems.
The main difference between Alzheimer’s and other diseases Vascular dementia occurs due to an acute disturbance of blood circulation in the brain, mainly after a stroke or injury. Therefore, deterioration occurs suddenly, more abruptly and proceeds in stages. In the future, with proper therapy and rehabilitation, dementia may not be so dangerous, and in some cases, we will be able to cure it. Healthy brain cells take on the burden of damaged cells. This is where vascular dementia differs from Alzheimer’s, in which deterioration is usually slow and persistent.
Short-term memory suffers in Parkinson’s disease, as in Alzheimer’s disease. Difficulties appear with attention, comprehension of what is happening. As the progress of the disease, motor and movement disorders, stiffness when walking, and we detect tremors of the limbs. It occurs because the parts of the brain responsible for movement are primarily affected.
There is a widespread belief that dementia occurs naturally as the body ages. A person begins to freak out from old age because the brain doesn’t work anymore. But this is a profoundly false statement.
Dementia is not a typical manifestation of old age. Behind any indication of senile dementia is either Alzheimer’s disease or some other disease.
This is very important to understand because we cannot cure many forms of dementia. Correct diagnosis at an early stage makes it possible to slow down the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life of a sick person.