Brain Dilemma: What Causes Dementia?
Disease might be a wrong word to describe dementia. It would be more precise to use the word dementia as a general term to describe a decline in mental ability.
This mental decline can get so severe that it often interferes with a person’s daily life.
It manifests mostly as memory loss, difficulty in coordination and motor functions, and problems with communication and finding the right words in speech.
People who suffer from dementia can’t handle complex tasks. They have trouble with planning and organization and aren’t able to solve problems.
All that can make them depressed, anxious, paranoid and agitated. Dementia can also cause hallucinations and even make the victim behave inappropriately.
There are various types of dementia and, therefore, different causes of dementia. We explore 13 types and causes of dementia below.
1. Alzheimer’s Disease
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. It usually shows up in people who are 65 years old or older.
Protein amyloid (i.e. plaques) surrounds brain cells while the other protein called tau tangles inside them and damages them. After some time, brain cells begin to die because chemical connections between them are lost.
Certain genetic factors can also affect the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Vascular Dementia
If blood vessels get blocked and the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, brain cells can get damaged or die. Sometimes this happens suddenly after one large stroke.
In other cases, it can develop gradually due to several small strokes. If small blood vessels deep inside the human brain get affected with disease, subcortical vascular dementia is often the result.
In view of the grave consequences of poor cardiovascular health being a culprit of dementia, improving and upgrading this bodily system is of prime importance.
3. Dementia with Lewy bodies
Lewy bodies are small abnormal structures that are formed in the brain cells. This is one of the most progressive types of dementia.
Once Lewy bodies disrupt chemistry of the brain, its cells begin to die. Even though memory loss on a daily basis isn’t as significant as with people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, people suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies often experience hallucinations.
Their alertness can vary during the day and they could have problems with movement and judging distances.
4. Frontotemporal Dementia
This type of dementia affects younger people and it usually shows up between the ages of 45 and 65. Abnormal clumping of proteins damages nerve cells in frontal and temporal lobes at the front side of the brain.
Once that happens, these parts of the brain start to shrink, and cells begin to die. Genetic factor is crucial in this case and it is more likely that you will get it if it runs in your family.
5. Mixed Dementia
It often happens that vascular dementia symptoms overlap with those of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. In such a case, the victim suffers from mixed dementia.
Mixed dementia can make people very confused and they are not able to think quickly, plan things, concentrate or resolve problems. That’s why their family may ask for professional help.
One of the best places to get top professional help is at the amazing NewDirection Care microtown community. People who live there can move around freely and safely. They are engaged in various activities that help their brains’ function. Everything is adapted for them in this little community, so that they can even be decision makers again.
6. Rarer Causes of Dementia
Dementia can also be caused by different kind of diseases or conditions.
Huntington’s disease, corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy or normal pressure hydrocephalus can lead to the development of dementia symptoms.
7. Huntington’s Disease-Related Dementia
In this case, genes play a crucial role. If children inherit a defective gene from their parents, there is a big chance that they will develop Huntington’s disease between the ages of 30 and 50.
Once the disease progresses, it’s possible that they will develop dementia symptoms. Their memory won’t be much affected, but they will have trouble communication problems as well as difficulty in making decisions.
8. Other Causes of Dementia
Brain cells can also get damaged due to severe infections. Various viruses, parasites and bacteria can sometimes lead to dementia: the most common types are Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, other Prion diseases and dementia connected to HIV/AIDS.
9. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease-Related Dementia
Prions are abnormal proteins in the brain that cause rare dementia types called prion diseases. They damage healthy proteins in the brain, cause problems with vision, memory and movement.
The alarming fact is that a person can catch it if they spend a lot of time with someone who is already suffering from this disease.
10. Traumatic Causes of Dementia
When people survive some severe injuries that damage the brain, they can easily end up with dementia. Concussions of head and brain can lead to the development of a type of dementia called Traumatic Brain Injury.
11. Toxic and Metabolic Causes of Dementia
The human body is like a factory where every part has a function. And what people put inside it can also affect their brain health.
Once the chemicals in the body get imbalanced, the person might be in danger of developing dementia. It’s usually caused by toxins, drugs, malnutrition, metabolic disorders or other biological conditions.
Those types of dementias are called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and Leukodystrophy. A person can get Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome if they have a vitamin B1 deficiency that can be caused by malnutrition, alcoholism or rampant eating habits and disorders.
Leukodystrophy represents a group of diseases which develop due to problems with myelin. It can affect both children and adults.
12. Parkinson’s Disease Related Dementia
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that can lead to dementia. It starts with tremor, stiffness, impaired balance and slow movement.
Once the disease progresses, a person can develop Parkinson’s disease-related dementia that manifests in memory loss and problems with communication.
This disease can also overlap with Lewy Body Dementia. It usually shows up in middle-aged and older people.
13. Mild Cognitive Impairment
Finally, it’s important to emphasize that Mild Cognitive Impairment isn’t an actual form of dementia. However, you will often hear people refer to it as an early Alzheimer’s disease because of memory loss, troubles with concentration, reasoning and planning.
It can be caused by stress and anxiety, thyroid problems or depression. However, if those health issues are treated, the symptoms will go away.
Sometimes, people who suffer from Mild Cognitive Impairment can develop dementia, and the cause for that is usually Alzheimer’s disease. So it would seem sensible to take preventive measures to reduce the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists still don’t know everything about the brain, and so conclude that dementia can’t be cured. However, there are allopathic medicines that can treat the symptoms of dementia, and thus help slow down their worsening progress.
With advances in science and technology in all aspects of life, the medical world still hopes to discover a medicine giving a more permanent solution for dementia.
Article by Diana Smith
Diana is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.