Ongoing Battle against Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which leads to memory loss and dementia. The disease is seen most commonly in people aged more than 60 years. It was first discovered and documented by German doctor Alois Alzheimer in 1901. The disease accounts for nearly 60% of all cases of dementia, and causes the United States an annual financial loss of $100 Billion.

Alzheimer's is one of the few diseases for which there is no cure and no known cause. Through technological advances, doctors have just been able to relieve the symptoms of affected patients but there is still no cure.

Alzheimer's disease develops in three stages - Early, Middle and Advanced. The early stage is characterized by forgetfulness, confusion in certain places outside the familiar, and short-term memory loss (inability to form new memories).brain cells loss These changes are usually observed only by close friends and family. Early symptoms of Alzheimer are notoriously mistaken for ageing or stress related problems. Neurological testing can reveal cognitive problems up to 8 years before a patient is clinically diagnosed with AD. Short-term memory loss is one of the earliest symptoms that occur in the pre-diagnosis stage.

In middle-stage Alzheimer's, we see acute memory loss (short and long term), sleeping problems, confusion about one's own location. Patients may not be able to recognize close relatives and experience difficulty speaking and writing.

Late-stage symptoms include paranoia, severe mood swings, exhaustion and an inability to carry out even the most basic tasks with no outside help. Death is eventually caused by an infection and not the disease itself.

New research indicates that genetics plays a 5% chance in getting diagnosed with AD. A recent study suggests people with Rosacea in their middle age are at a slightly higher risk. Currently, AD medications cannot cure the disease or stop brain cells from dying. They can just provide temporary relief from the symptoms.

For memory loss, patients are prescribed Cholinesterase inhibitors. These improve the cognitive abilities of a given patient by preventing loss of acetylcholine. This chemical is responsible for communication between nerve cells. These inhibitors delay the worsening of the symptoms in at least half of the patients who consume them.

Anti-depressants are prescribed to help with behavioral changes. They might also provide relief for other symptoms as well. For example, some of the anti-depressants could provide better sleep.

It is important to stay updated on the drugs that could help affected patients get through this dreaded, incurable disease in a better manner.

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