What is Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia. Dementia, in simple terms means loss of memory. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and eventually fatal disease of the brain. It causes impairment of the higher brain functions such as memory, thinking and personality. The Alzheimer’s disease is named after the German physician, Alois Alzheimer who, in 1907, first described the symptoms of this disease.

Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease

What causes Alzheimer’s disease is not yet known. After a significant amount of clinical research scientists have identified risk factors. Some of the common risk factors in the development of this disease are advancing age and family history. It has also been found that people affected by Down’s syndrome are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease because they have an extra chromosome. Some scientists believe that the onset of Alzheimer’s disease may be triggered by environmental factors such as viral and bacterial infections, but there is no clinical evidence to support this theory.

Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease vary greatly in individuals. However, the disease is a gradually progressive disease. The rate of progression of the disease varies from person to person. A person may live from three to twenty years with Alzheimer’s disease, with the average being seven to ten years.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

The person suffering from this disease begins to experience frequent memory lapses, which eventually progress to long term loss of memory. They begin to forget the names of close family members. They begin to forget their address, their relationships with close friends and family members and even their own name. The memory loss may be so severe that they are unable to manage the daily household chores. They are unable to cook and clean. As a result of their memory loss they find it difficult to communicate with other people. As they become more and more dependent on others for their basic day to day needs they begin to become irritable and confused. In the later stages of the disease the person may even need round the clock care by nurse or relatives as they may become bed ridden or completely dependent on others for even their most simple and basic needs such as eating, drinking and going to the toilet.

Types of Alzheimer’s Disease:

There are two different types of Alzheimer’s disease:

Sporadic Alzheimer’s Disease

This type of Alzheimer’s disease can affect adults at any age, but usually occurs after age 65

Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease. More than 95% cases of Alzheimer’s disease fall into the category of Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. It can take up to 20 years for the disease to develop.

Familial Alzheimer’s Disease

This is a rare type of Alzheimer’s disease. This disease tends to run in families. If a parent has a mutated gene, each child has a 50% chance of inheriting it. The age of onset is earlier than for sporadic Alzheimer’s disease, with symptoms appearing when the person is aged in their 40s or 50s.

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