Currently, more than 55 million people are affected by dementia in the world and every year there are almost 10 million new cases. Knowing how to recognize the first symptoms can be the key to obtaining a rapid diagnosis which will allow the implementation of an appropriate medical follow-up.
Dementia is a general term used to describe a set of symptoms associated with the progressive loss of cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, reasoning and the ability to carry out daily activities. The disease ofAlzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia and would be the cause of 60 to 70% of cases.
Although there is no cure for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, doctors can initiate treatment once they have made a diagnosis.
Here are some common signs of dementia to watch out for. They should be a warning signal and can occur before memory loss:
- Changes in visual and spatial perception: people with dementia may have difficulty judging distances, recognizing familiar objects, or reading. They may also have problems with orientation in familiar places. In statements made to the newspaper Huffpostneurologist Arif Dalvi, head of the movement disorders program at Delray Medical Center in the United States, says: “Visual or spatial skills can be affected early on, a common way this presents through difficulty following a known route or having to rely on GPS directions to find your way on a previously familiar path.”
- Changes in mood and behavior : Mood changes, such as irritability, depression, anxiety or apathy are also to be taken seriously. People with dementia may withdraw from social life, lose interest in usual activities, or have unexplained mood swings. Dr. Dalvi says: “A sudden change in personality or mood with no underlying explanation should also raise red flags.”.
- Difficulties in language and communication: having trouble finding the right words, following a conversation or understanding simple instructions can also be a sign of the disease. People with dementia tend to repeat the same words or phrases. Dr. Dalvi asserts that: “Language difficulties, including difficulty finding words, incorrect sentence construction, or difficulty speaking, may present long before memory loss“.
There are other less common symptoms, such as difficulty performing familiar tasks, sensitivity to noise, and a change in taste and smell. Dr. Stanley Appel, a neurologist and director of the Ann Kimball & John W. Johnson Center for Cellular Therapeutics at Houston Methodist, told Huffpost that there are also other less common symptoms that resemble other neurological issues. “Certain types of dementia, such as Dementia with Lewy bodies (LCD)can cause hallucinations or delusions. However, it is important to know that hallucinations can be linked to other causes. Any unusual symptoms should be discussed with a healthcare professional.“Early detection of dementia can allow appropriate care to be put in place and thus maximize the quality of life of people with dementia.
New medical advances for the treatment of dementia
Dr. Appel remains optimistic about medical advances and research to find an effective treatment for dementia. He points out that in recent years there has been a significant breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: ” The FDA has approved two new drugs, Aduhelm (aducanumab) and Leqembi (lecanemab), that target the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease “.
However, Aduhelm’s endorsement remains highly controversial. Some studies have shown that it can slow cognitive decline in some patients, but other studies show that it can also cause very serious side effects: about 35% of patients taking Aduhelm suffered from painful cerebral edema and some cerebral hemorrhages.
Dr. Appel also suggested that some doctors are working on other innovative approaches to treating dementia. One is to suppress neuroinflammation with regulatory T cells (Tregs), and other research is using advances in gene therapy (introducing genetic material into cells to cure disease) to develop new approaches to disease. Alzheimer’s”These breakthroughs in medical science offer hope for people with dementia and their families“.