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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a growing public health concern affecting millions worldwide. It is complex and the most common form of dementia, typically after age 65. AD is characterized by progressive cognitive impairment. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still not known. But it is believed that the disease causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to die eventually in Alzheimer’s condition. Typically progressing slowly, stages of Alzheimer’s disease include early, middle, and late (sometimes referred to as mild, moderate, and severe). Since this condition affects people in different ways, everyone may experience dementia symptoms or progress through the stages differently. 

Dementia is a clinical term for a decline in mental capacity severe enough to disrupt daily life. Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease that accounts for around 70% of dementia cases. Alzheimer's disease symptoms are:

  1. Memory loss
  2. Confusion
  3. Disturbances in language and Judgement control
  4. Changes in behaviour, mood, and personality.
  5. Alzheimer's also affects important metabolic processes that keep neurons healthy.

Further, these disruptions cause the nerve cells in the brain to stop working, lose connections with other nerve cells, and eventually die. The death of nerve cells results in memory failure, personality changes, problems carrying out daily activities, and other disease features. There is no Alzheimers disease treatment that cures this brain disease. But Alzheimer's disease medication may improve or slow the progression of symptoms. Different dementia medications and non-drug treatments (support and counselling) can positively influence Alzheimer's disease.


What are the causes of Alzheimer's Disease? 

The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is still not completely understood. But it is believed that the brain fails to function normally, which disrupts the action of neurons (brain cells) and triggers a series of toxic effects. Neurons are damaged, lose connections to each other, and slowly die. As per research reports, for most people, Alzheimer's is a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that directly impact the brain over time. 

Rarely, Alzheimer disease results from genetic factors that increase the chances of disease onset in middle age. The damage most often begins at the brain region that controls memory and begins years before the first symptoms. Eventually, or by the later stage of the disease, the brain shrinks significantly. 


What are the risk factors for developing Alzheimer's Disease? 

  1. Age: Increasing age is one of the common risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. The brain disorder is not a part of normal ageing, but the risk of developing Alzheimer's increases as you age.
  1. Family History and Genetics: Your risk of developing Alzheimer's is higher if your parents or sibling has the problem. The genetic mechanism is still unknown, and the genetic factors are likely complex. 
  1. Down Syndrome: Many individuals with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease. Symptoms of the disease tend to appear 10 to 20 years earlier in people with Down syndrome than in the general population.
  1. Gender: The risk is more in women than men, as women with the disease live longer than men.  
  1. Mild Cognitive Impairment: It is a decline in memory or other thinking skills, but it doesn't prevent individuals from functioning in social or work environments. People with mild cognitive impairment are more likely to develop dementia. A diagnosis of cognitive impairment encourages focusing on healthy lifestyle modifications and effective strategies for making up for memory loss.
  1. Head Trauma: People with severe trauma are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. 
  1. Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption has long been associated with brain changes. Several studies have shown that alcohol use disorders are linked to an increased risk of dementia.
  1. Poor Sleep Patterns: According to research reports, poor sleep patterns include difficulty falling or staying asleep.


What are the treatments for Alzheimer's disease? 

Learning you have Alzheimer's disease can be distressing. Working with your doctor can help you find the best treatment to manage your symptoms and prolong your independence. Medicinal treatment might be one strategy to help patients temporarily manage the symptoms. Unfortunately, these medicines do not work for everyone and cannot cure the disease or stop its progression. Furthermore, the effect of the drug wears off after some time. 

No therapy can reverse the condition once an individual develops early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Currently, there is no cure for this condition. But some dementia medications can reduce the severity of symptoms in some people. They slow down the progression of the disease and improve brain function. It is important to discuss what treatment option works best with your doctor.

Treating the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can provide patients with comfort and independence for longer. Galantamine, donepezil, and rivastigmine are cholinesterase inhibitors that effectively treat mild to moderate cases. These medicines may help reduce or control associated cognitive and behavioural symptoms. It is not fully understood how these medicines work. Still, research indicates that they prevent the breakdown of a chemical in the brain called acetylcholine, which is believed to be important for memory and thinking. As the disease progresses, the brain produces less and less of this chemical, so these drugs eventually lose their effect. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. Taking medicines with food might minimize side effects.  

Memantine for Lateral Stages

The FDA approves memantine (Admenta) to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. It regulates the activity of a certain chemical in the body, which is widely involved in brain functions, including memory and learning. Common side effects include confusion, headache, agitation, and dizziness.

Because AD is a progressive disease, your symptoms and treatment plan will change over time. If you take an Alzheimer's drug, your doctor will decide how long you should continue your medicine. You can buy Alzheimer's disease medication online from an e-pharmacy like alldaychemist.com. 


Prevention is Key 

Alzheimer's can not be prevented. However, several lifestyle risk factors can be modified to improve the condition. Some reports suggest changes in diet, exercise, and steps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, heart-healthy choices that reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease include: 

  • Regular exercise
  • Eating a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruits, healthy oils, and foods low in saturated fat
  • Following treatment guidelines to manage diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure
  • Quit smoking (if you smoke)

Alzheimer's disease can affect all aspects of individuals' lives, loved ones, and friends. If you have been diagnosed with dementia or your loved one is affected, remember that a healthcare expert can help you prescribe a better treatment.

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. It causes a loss of thinking, remembering, and reasoning skills that affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities. Alzheimer’s is the major cause of dementia among the older population.

Is Alzheimer’s hereditary?

Just because you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) doesn’t mean you will be affected. Mostly reported Alzheimer’s are late-onset. This disease affects individuals in their 60s and is not associated with a specific genetic mutation. However, genes play a role in increasing a person’s risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s. The early-onset disease is rare and can be caused by changes in certain genes. In case any of the gene mutations are passed down, the child will usually, but not always, have AD. Whereas in other cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s, the research report shows other genetic components are involved.   

What are the early signs & symptoms of Alzheimer’s?

Initially, people with Alzheimer’s experience memory problems, though different people have different initial symptoms. A decline in other aspects of thinking power such as spatial issues, difficulty finding the right words, and impaired reasoning or judgement could also be an early indication of Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, mild cognitive impairment can also be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, but not everyone with this impairment develops Alzheimer’s. Along with memory problems, movement difficulties have also been linked.   

Is Alzheimer’s preventable?

Currently, there is no definitive evidence about what can prevent Alzheimer’s. What is usually recommended is a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, appropriate weight, physical activity, and control of high blood pressure. Practising these healthy lifestyle habits can lower the risk of certain chronic diseases and boost overall health. Scientists are also studying social activity in reducing Alzheimer’s disease risk.

What treatments are available for Alzheimer’s?

No treatment is yet available that can stop Alzheimer’s. However, certain oral medications may help delay the progression of symptoms. Symptoms such as agitation, sleeplessness, anxiety, wandering, and depression can be reduced by helping the patients and their caregivers/family members learn to identify triggers for these behaviours and methods to manage them. Some oral medicines are also effective at reducing behavioural symptoms.  

Is Alzheimer’s disease curable?

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several drugs to treat people with Alzheimer’s disease, and certain medicines may help reduce behavioural symptoms.

Are there any adverse effects of Alzheimer’s drugs?

Like any other medicine, the higher dose of Alzheimer’s medications, the more likely side effects will occur. These medications have possible side effects, including nausea, diarrhoea, allergic reactions, and loss of appetite. 

Is exercise beneficial for someone with Alzheimer’s disease?

There is no definite evidence, but many studies show that physically active people are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activities can reduce the risk factors for dementia. Also, regular physical activity helps to reduce the risk of depression and obesity associated with Alzheimer’s disease.   

Do Alzheimer’s symptoms vary from time to time?

The symptoms worsen over time, although the rate at which the disease progresses varies. 

In their early stages, do people with Alzheimer’s begin to lose interest in sex?

People with Alzheimer’s gradually develop a change in their sexual behaviour, needs, and desires may change. Such people experience emotional and physical changes because of their condition. These changes can affect how they feel about intimacy. Certain types of dementia called frontotemporal dementia (FTD) can affect a person’s sexual behaviour and attitude towards sex. The type of dementia may affect an individual’s ability to feel empathy, which can affect bot partner’s sense of intimate relationship.        

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