Dementia is an illness characterized by gradual decline of the brain’s abilities, thus affecting the normal activities of the person. The extreme result of this mental affliction is total memory loss. During the initial stages of dementia, the inability to think clearly and forgetfulness are symptoms that should be taken seriously. This condition affects not just the person who has it but the people around him as well, especially his family.
Dementia was once referred to as senility or normal aging process where the optimal functions of brain decline. However, studies show that dementia is more than senility. It is a debilitating condition that causes severe damage in the brain which results in permanent loss of its functions.
Contributory factors of Dementia are:
- Diseases – There are diseases that contribute to the degeneration and death of brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease accounts to 8o% of dementia cases. Diabetes Mellitus is another disease that is associated with dementia.
- Stroke – It can cause Vascular Dementia. It happens when the brain’s oxygen supply is interrupted abruptly during the stroke and damaged the healthy brain cells.
- Lewy bodies – They are small, circular protein lumps that are formed inside the brain cells. How they are build up is still unknown but these lumps affect the neurotransmitters chemicals of the brain known as acetylcholine and dopamine. These chemicals play vital roles in the memory, mood, attention and learning abilities of the brain. The abnormal protein formation affects the ability of the brain to do its normal functions affecting physical abilities. The most serious disease that this condition brings is Parkinson’s.
- Atherosclerosis – It is known as small vessel disease. It is common among people who suffer from Type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure. It is also the disease of most smokers. It develops when blood vessels in the brain become narrow and hard, preventing blood supply to flow normally. When blood vessels harden, fatty deposits are developed, which then causes this condition.
Other contributory factors of Dementia which can be treated immediately are:
- Thyroid Problems such as lack of thyroid hormones
- Vitamin deficiencies like lack of essential Vitamin B
- High Cholesterol – Abnormal or high-level of bad cholesterol (LDL) increases the risk of getting dementia.
- Homocysteine – It is an amino acid that flows in the blood and is associated with protein build-up. Abundance of this acid can lead to dementia.
- Psychological disorders – Because of lack of regular activities that stimulate cognitive functioning of the brain. Another factor is social isolation which leads to depression.
- Genetic factors like age and family genes – As people age, the risk of getting dementia increases. Sometimes, dementia runs in the family because of certain gene mutations bring this condition.
- Head injury – Sudden impact and severe damage in the brain can cause dementia.
- Brain tumors – Lumps in the brain can cause partial to total damage to its healthy cells.
- Long-term alcohol consumption – Drinking a large amount of alcohol regularly can increase the risk of dementia.
- Smoking – Studies show that smokers are at risk of early mental decline and dementia.
- Infections like encephalitis and HIV-related infections
Rare cases of dementia like neurodegenerative dementia are caused by corticobasal denegeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, Huntington’s disease and corticol atrophy.