Alzheimer's is a chronic debilitating disease that results in the loss of the cognitive and other function required in the normal functioning in the society. The cause of the disease is not clearly known but there are a few hypotheses on the cause buy they all concentrate on the hormones disturbance especially those used in the behavior and cognitive aspects. There is need for early detection because of a lack of proper treatment. The disease affects people of ages above 65 years with the prevalence highest among people of 85 years and above. This paper will look at the causes of the disease, the etiology, stage sand the available methods of treatment. What are the causes of Alzheimer's disease, diagnosis and treatment?
Alzheimer is a chronic debilitating disease which presents itself by the loss of cognitive abilities and a lowered ability to perform activities that required in the daily living conditions of any normal human being. This also causes the disturbance of the behavior patterns of the individual affected. The disease is further complicated by the inability in diagnosis which is a result of the assessment tolls which are required in the treatment which are quite complicated. Furthermore the association with the aging process and the stigma that comes due to the disease and the diagnosis used makes harder to detect in the early stages which could have made the management much easier. This is a disease that is slowly rising in the prevalence rate as by the present statistics the umber of diagnosed cases around 4 million in America alone and with the current rate the figures are expected to rise as high as about 14 million in the year 2050. This clearly shows the enormous issue that it is which is being not given the attention which is required (Griffith, 13).
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The etiology of the disease is not clearly known but it is though to be as a result of a reduction in the cholinergic neurotransmission which normally is responsible for the disturbances in the cognition and behavioral aspects which are brought about by the disease. Basically the disease is a more common example of dementia which is a condition that results in the loss of memory. Due to the disease having a consistent onset and symptoms it can b detected early on. Its prevalence is very high among individuals over 80 years old with half of the diagnosed cases coming from this group but cases of up to 50 years are reported to be affected. The early diagnosis can be used in the reversal of its effects and this can be done both using clinical methods which include the use of drugs and the use of non clinical methods that uses other methods (Sherman, 11).
Progression of Alzheimer's
Stage one: normal. In this stage the person will function very normally without any constraints. There will be no loss of cognitive function nor will the behavioral patterns change. At this point it will be practically impossible to diagnose the disease.
Stage two: decline of cognitive function mildly. This is the stage that Alzheimer's will begin to affect the individual and it will result in the disturbance of the normal cognitive abilities. This decline will result in the loss of small objects like keys, forgetting of names of familiar places or objects. Most of the time this symptoms will be assumed as part of the normal aging process and no serious concern will given into it.
Stage three: mild cognitive decline. At this point the symptoms of the disease will become more rampant I comparison to the second stage. This will lead to the person noticing the condition and seeking the attention of a specialist for the same. The disease at such a point will be diagnosed and problems begin to arise in relation to memory and other issues like concentration. The individual will have problems in remembering words and keep forgetting new things. The performance in terms of social and work situations will also decline and the events of misplaced items will increase.
Stage Four: Moderate cognitive decline, at this stage the individual will need more care from people around because the forgetting of events like medical check up and selection of clothing becomes harder. But the person can still perform basic function lie eating and going to the toilet.
Stage five: severe cognitive decline. The family needs to support the patient at this stage due to the loss of personal history and surrounding environment. There also arises a disorder in the basic functions like walking. Will need help in going to toile and dressing. This will eventually deteriorate to lose ability in terms of nerve and muscles leading to degeneration and weigh loss. The inability to respond to environment will also set in and all this will affect the patient's family due to the inability to assist (Smith, 1).
The disease normally begins slowly with the symptoms becoming more prominent in the later stages.
The symptoms should be noticed early for the diagnosis to take place. The first symptoms that should sound an alert for any individual is if some for the following do start happening; poor judgment, change of memory especially that of skills which are related to the job in which one is doing, another symptom which can be alarming is the difficult in finding the right words to be used when conversing, if problems also start arising when doing simple calculations this can also be alarming. Other which are less significant but will be present will include the poor judgment in situations and the loss of initiative. If these early signs do occur the person should take an initiative to a specialist for check up which will be followed by four stage test to be used in the diagnosis if the person is affected by the condition.
Causes of Alzheimer's
According to Gwyther (26), the cause of the disease is not very clear but it is believed to be a complex combination of various actions as a result of the connection between neurobiological processes and genetic processes which include various hypotheses that have been used in determining the cause. Some of the hypotheses used in determining this include amyloid hypothesis, coligernic hypothesis, and glutamateric hypothesis, oxidative hypothesis and inflammatory hypothesis. All these hypotheses used in the trying to find the cause of the disease have one fundamental agreement which is the condition coming about due to the mix up in the generation of the required nerves in the brain due to mixed motors used in the transmission of various impulses.
The risk factors which are associated with the condition can be classified into two groups namely genetic and non genetic, in the non genetic one of the major reasons include age in which people of over 85 years have a higher chance of developing the disease and this will reduce up to the age of 65 years. People of below this age bracket have a very low chance of developing the disease using the demography of the affected in the incidence group. Other factors which can predispose one to this condition include the poor development intellectually, exposure to some toxins like aluminum can cause while traumas in the encephalic areas have been known to contribute to the development of the disease.
The progress of the disease can be accelerated by stress and other medical illnesses can lead to quick occurrence of the symptoms of the disease. Genetic factors which may be considered to risk factors can be the various chromosomes which are involved leading to its occurrence; this will include chromosomes 1, 21, 19 and 14. The prophylaxis which can be done in this case is the use of protective nutrients which can be prescribed to reduce the progress of the disease; this will include use of drugs like anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. Others can be the ensuring the early intellectual development and some genes like the apolipoprotein E-2 and APOE 3 (Monczor, 7).
The first stage of the disease diagnosis is the when the specialist will conduct a personal case history on the individual and this will include a physical examination and other diagnostic tests. Griffith (13) explains that these tests will be employed to make sure the cause of the dementia is not another disease or condition. Some of the tests which will be done include a computed tomography and other magnetic imaging to rule out the presence of a tumor as it can also have such effects. The second stage will include the use of test which will be used to perform the performance in terms of the cognitive functions and other functional assessments.
The evaluations at this stage will be used for further referring of the patient to other specialist to check for other conditions if the results of the test done are not clear. The third stage of the diagnosis will include the use other support services and the discussion on the best option in terms of treatment will take place including the referral to other specialists for confirmation of the tests. The treatment will begin at this stage with the use of an inhibitor to the Cholinesterase (ChE) which is a contributor in the progress of the disease. The fourth stage which occurs in the final visit to specialist during the diagnosis stage: in this stage the cognitive functions of the patient will be reassessed and this will also include the behavioral symptoms that will have presented themselves. The treatment of the symptoms will begin with the patient being referred to a psychiatrist for support mentally with a support group to assist in the acceptance of the prevailing condition (Lehye, 90)
Treatment of Alzheimer's
A treatment in which a patient is restored to the condition in which he or she was before the occurrence is not possible. This is because drugs which can do that are not available or yet to be discovered. Hence the drugs which are administered to the patient include that which assists in terms of the persons functions which include the cognitive function, the behavioral and functional symptoms. This will be reduced by the drugs which give a positive effect of reducing the effects of these symptoms. The uses of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory drugs and estrogens have been used with varying success in terms of effectiveness. The use of inhibitor for Cholinesterase can be used; some of the drugs in the market available for the patients include Donepezil, Exelon and Reminyl. In some of the patients some factors will have to be put in place like for example the tolerance to the drugs prescribed have to be considered and if not the need for an alternative should be sought. The treatment, what should be put in consideration is the care giver or the family of the person who is suffering and the mental and physical burdens they have to endure. This means that they will need some care as they tend to get much stressed and in some cases slip into depression because of the same reason. Hence the need for the care needed for the care giver (Perrin, 920).
Alzheimer's is a disease that needs a lot of attention and care to the affected. It can easily affect anyone above the age of 65 years old. To prevent it from doing a lot of damage to the individuals cognitive function its good for it to be detected early as they is no drug which can reverse it once its symptoms set in. the only drugs available are for controlling he symptoms. This type of dementia for confirmation needs proper testing to rule out the other conditions which can bring about dementia. This is done due to lack of a specific method to be used in the testing. The drugs which will be used need to be tested in terms of the patient's tolerance and administered in the right doses. Due to lack of drugs which can restore one proper function the disease should always be detected early.