Dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms shared by a number of neurological conditions. (Similar to how the word Cancer is an umbrella term for numerous conditions, i.e leukemia, melanoma,)
Aging brains, MCI, or Dementia?
There are dozens of causes of dementia, including many that may be reversible, such as hypo-thyroidism, normal pressure hydrocephalus, and vitamin deficiencies. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish dementia from what doctors call delirium, or severe confusion due to illness. Delirium is reversible and may be caused by dehydration, pneumonia, drug reactions, or a severe exacerbation of many pre-existing conditions. Rarely are personality changes found to be due to brain tumors.
The most common dementias
There are over 100 diseases that may cause dementia; the following are the most common:
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common irreversible dementia. It represents around 65% of all dementias.
The Alzheimer's Association
Lewy body disease is closely related to and may co-exist with Parkinson’s disease. Rigidity and difficulty initiating movement along with severe hallucinations, delusions and aggressive outbursts usually show up before real memory loss is apparent. It’s quite difficult to distinguish from Alzheimer’s and may benefit from some of the same therapy.
Vascular dementia is the broad term for dementia associated with problems with the circulation of blood to the brain. It can be caused by high blood pressure, high cholesterol and strokes.apparent. It’s quite difficult to distinguish from Alzheimer’s and may benefit from some of the same therapy.
Multi-infarct dementia is caused by repeated strokes sometimes mini-strokes or Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA,) but it also may occur if several larger strokes have happened.
Frontal lobe dementia is the name given to any dementia caused by damage to this part of the brain; it can also be caused by genetic predisposition and other diseases. The frontal lobe governs mood, behavior, and self-control. Damage leads to changes in the way a person feels and expresses emotion, and loss of judgment.
Alcohol related dementia is caused by excessive use of alcohol. It’s usually also a deficiency in thiamine and vitamin B1. Initial symptoms are similar to those of early Alzheimer’s disease, but may be improved or reversed with vitamin therapy.