Although dementia is a condition all on its own, it is often treated as a symptom because there are so many potential underlying causes for its occurrence. Some of the most common causes for dementia include lewy body disease, vascular dementia or the presence of numerous small strokes, Huntingtons disease, Parkinsons disease, Lyme disease, HIV/AIDS, picks disease, brain injury, brain tumor, progressive supra-nuclear palsy, chronic alcohol abuse, metabolic causes, low levels of vitamin B12 and normal-pressure hydrocephalus. There are a number of potential complications that arise from dementia, and these can vary depending on what the cause of the dementia is. Some examples of complications can include abuse by stressed-out caregivers, increased infections in the body, a loss of ability for the patient to interact with others, a loss of ability for the patient to function or to care for him/herself, reduction in lifespan and side effects from medications that are used to care for the disorder.
Most of the signs and symptoms associated with dementia relate to cognitive impairment, including difficulty with mental function. Difficulties with language, perception, memory or cognitive skills often indicate dementia. Forgetfulness, difficulty performing more than a single task at once, difficulty making decisions or solving problems and forgetting simple things like conversations or recent events are all examples of mild cognitive impairment, which is how many cases of dementia begin. It is essential to note that not all mild cognitive impairment develops into dementia, however.
A skilled physician will be able to diagnose cognitive impairments and determine whether or not dementia is the cause. The physician will need to diagnose not only the dementia, but also anything that may be causing or exacerbating the dementia such as thyroid disease, brain tumor, severe depression, vitamin deficiencies or anemia. An examination will likely include blood chemistry, electroencephalograph, head CT, MRI of the head, urinalysis and thyroid tests.
Treatment options absolutely depend on what causes exist behind the dementia. There are things that can be done to treat the dementia, including some mental exercises, hospitalization, changing medications, treating underlying conditions and treatment using medication to control symptoms of the dementia. Some medications can help to slow down the rate of development of the dementia, though the benefit is not often great.
Because dementia symptoms can worsen quickly and many complications can occur, working closely with the right physician is absolutely essential. Stopping or slowing the development of dementia by treating underlying causes and newly developing symptoms is essential. While many steps can be taken to treat dementia at home over time, dementia treatment cannot be done without first working closely with a trained physician.