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Alzheimer’s is a disease that early detection is critical. The earlier the discovery, the better the chance of benefitting from the doctor prescribed treatment and participating in clinical trials. What is Alzheimer’s disease, and what are some of the early signs to look for that signal Alzheimer’s disease?
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects your memory and cognition. The doctor, for whom the disease was named, died of the condition 1906. After she passed away, her brain tissue was examined. Doctors found that there were tangled up nerve fibers and abnormal clumps of plaques in her brain. These are some of the primary signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Another essential sign of Alzheimer’s disease is that the nerve cells in the brain lose connection and have difficulty communicating. As the communication deteriorates in the brain matter, the tissue shrinks and dies, this affects the rest of the body’s ability to function.
Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
People with the disease do not realize they have it. Keep in mind that Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. It is close family and friends that often notice the signs of Alzheimer’s first. Here are some of the early signs.
- Loss of memory in the area of cognition
- Loss of Hearing
- Impaired reasoning or judgment
- Mood and personality changes
- Having trouble completing routine tasks
A person’s change in cognitive abilities is a big tell-tale sign that Alzheimer’s disease may be on the horizon. Sometimes people see the signs and feel that memory and hearing loss are just a part of the aging process. The loss of memory and cognition caused by Alzheimer’s is not just part of growing old. Some specific warning signs and actual symptoms of loss of cognition from Alzheimer’s are as follows:
- Struggle to remember current situations in life.
- Forgetting the day or date and daily tasks.
- Reduced ability to solve problems or make a plan.
- Misplacing items and thinking they were taken by someone else.
- Conversations are challenging at times because you cannot come up with the words.
- Common tasks like cooking, hobbies, and work are hard to perform due to confusion or memory loss.
If you see any of these warning signs, take notice for a short time. Do not wait too long. The only way to decide if the symptoms you are noticing are Alzheimer’s related is by taking your loved one for a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. This scan reveals to healthcare professionals the activity of your tissues and organs. By using a special dye containing radioactive tracers, an image is created, and the function of your brain can be clearly seen. PET scans are an instrumental tool in the early detection of Alzheimer’s.
The Silent and Overlooked Symptom
Researchers are finding that there is a significant connection between hearing loss and dementia. Since Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, researchers believe there is a link between Alzheimer’s disease and hearing loss. One clinical study at John Hopkins found that “people with hearing loss were 24% more likely to have Alzheimer’s.” This study does not suggest that loss of hearing causes the disease, but there is a definite link between hearing loss and dementia.
This silent symptom is often overlooked because hearing loss is just a part of growing old. Why do researchers feel there is a link? There are several ideas or theories as to why this is the case.
- The auditory receptors in the brain are changing, and this changes the brain structure. Loss of hearing affects cognitive abilities.
- Feeling of not being apart and loneliness often comes with a loss of hearing.
It is important to take notice and treat the loss of hearing as you age. Just the emotional and psychological aspect of growing older and feeling alone puts a load on the brain and the body. Social connections, interactions with loved ones, and acceptance are so important to a healthy body and brain function.
One of the first ways to actively lessen the impact of Alzheimer’s disease and hearing loss is by having your hearing tested and try to remedy the loss of hearing. The actual treatment of Alzheimer’s is complex, and there is no one treatment fits all cases. At this point, prevention is the best medicine.
Some treatment options are several medications that help maintain brain function. These medications can sometimes help manage the symptoms of the disease. The prescribed drugs try to regulate the neurotransmitters in the brain. They do not work for everyone. If they are effective, the medication is not a cure. The medicine provides temporary relief and a better quality of life.
Keeping the mind active and busy in positive activities may help slow down the disease in the brain. This may prove to be a mild antidote for the disease. The link between Alzheimer’s and stress is under examination. Stress causes inflammation in the brain. This leaves the brain more vulnerable to health problems like dementia. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health came to the conclusion that “every stressful event was equal to 1.5 years of brain aging across all participants, except for African-Americans, where every stressful event was equal to 4 years of brain aging.” Stress also can cause a person to become depressed or even feel downhearted. Depression is a known and accepted as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
It has also been said that delirium can contribute to a faster decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Delirium is a state of worse-than-usual mental function caused by stress on the body or mind or an illness. Delirium could be described as an overwhelming feeling of confusion and being out of your element that causes great stress. Here are some indicators of delirium.
- Having difficulty to stay on track more than usual
- Harder than usual to remember things
- Speech is harder to understand than usual
- Seeing things that are not actually there
- Unusual fear, depression or withdrawing from loved ones
- A rapid change in personality
- Quick changes of behavior between the state of confusion, alertness, and sleepiness.
La Canada Hearing
The debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease cannot be stopped once the disease has set in. However, the progression of the disease may be slowed down by early detection and treatment. It is essential to listen and watch for the signs. When it comes to untreated hearing loss, we can help. At La Canada Hearing, we provide comprehensive hearing health services to help you monitor your hearing abilities. Contact us today to learn more.