Can the Beginning Stages of Alzheimer's Be Stopped?
Alzheimer’s disease is feared by many older adults because of the havoc it wreaks on the brain as it progresses. For this reason, a frequent question is the following: Can the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s be stopped? Discover the answer to this question.
Unfortunately, this disorder is very common worldwide. According to data from the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 44 million people who suffer from it. Its main characteristic is that at first, the symptoms may be mild, however, they progress and cause changes in personality.
What is Alzheimer’s?
This disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is characterized by problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. The term dementia is used to refer to various diseases capable of altering the normal functioning of the brain.
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease, that is, it can worsen over time. Although the rate of progression varies from person to person, once the first symptoms appear, life expectancy decreases.
This disease causes the death of neurons and the loss of tissue throughout the brain, which will atrophy over time, losing various functions. The greatest atrophy will be registered in the hippocampus, the area in charge of storing new information. Therefore, there’s short-term memory loss at the onset of the disease.
Causes and associated risk factors
After years of research, specialists are still unable to find a specific cause for this disease. In fact, there are numerous genetic and environmental factors that influence and interact with each other for the development of neuronal degeneration.
Many Alzheimer’s patients have a family history of the disease, which highlights the importance of heredity in its development. According to research, there are three genes associated with the disease. However, there’s still no conclusive evidence.
Among the environmental and lifestyle factors that can favor its appearance, the following stand out:
- Bad eating habits and high cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and alcoholism
- Heart problems
- Brain damage from accidents
- The consumption of harmful substances, such as narcotics
- Poorly controlled diabetes
In general terms, all of the factors mentioned above decrease, in one way or another, the blood circulation in the brain. This will cause it to receive less oxygen and, consequently, neuronal deterioration will be accelerated.
Symptoms of the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s
At first, Alzheimer’s symptoms can be very mild and seem like simple disorientation or bewilderment. Therefore, it’s very common for these to be associated with physiological neuronal deterioration due to age.
However, these signs can progress rapidly, wreaking havoc on the memory and behavior of the sufferer. Cognitive impairment is so severe in some cases that the person may be unable to identify their partner or children. It will even change your personality.
In this regard, it’s extremely important to identify the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s in a timely manner. To make this job easier for family members, the Alzheimer’s Association established 10 warning signs for this disease and other types of dementia, which are as follows:
- Memory changes that make daily life difficult
- Difficulty planning or solving problems
- Difficulty performing usual tasks
- Disorientation of time or place
- Difficulty understanding visual images and how objects are related
- Problems with the use of words
- Misplaced placement of objects
- Lack of good judgment
- Sudden loss of initiative
- Unexplained mood swings
Can the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s be stopped?
Once the beginning of Alzheimer’s is identified and diagnosed by the specialist, the following question arises: Can the process be stopped? Unfortunately, there’s no medical treatment or method that’s capable of doing so, so neuronal deterioration will continue to progress.
However, it’s possible to start treatment at the beginning of Alzheimer’s in order to alleviate the symptoms and delay its repercussions. This is for the sole purpose of maintaining a level of independence for longer. Most of the drugs available increase the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain, thereby improving its function.
On the other hand, there are various lifestyle changes that people diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s can make. None of these changes can replace medical treatment, but they’ll help maintain a better state of health and delay complications:
- Increase physical activity and weight control
- Have a balanced diet and consume the necessary nutrients
- Control heart disease
- Eliminate the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
- Reduce stress levels
- Perform intelligence exercises on a regular basis
As already mentioned, the pharmacological treatment for Alzheimer’s is focused on reducing the effect of the symptoms of the disease for a limited time. In this way, a momentary improvement in the patient’s memory will be obtained, increasing their independence.
It’s important to know that when neurons die, communication between them is lost, so information can’t be transmitted properly. Medications generate the production of neurotransmitters in order for the information to go another way.
Two drugs are approved for international use: Anticholinesterases and memantine. The first of them is used in cases of mild and moderate Alzheimer’s, while the second is administered in severe cases of dementia.
Medical supervision is essential
Once the beginning of Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, the patient must undergo very rigorous medical control. From time to time, a specialist should be visited in order to study cognitive deterioration. This will allow them to change the medication used and make lifestyle adjustments if necessary.
It’s important to note that all patients with this disease will require ongoing care. This is because the damage to the brain can become so severe that it prevents them from doing everyday tasks, such as bathing or eating on their own.It might interest you...
- Alzheimer’s Association. What is Alzheimer’s Disease? [Internet]. Alzheimer’s Association. Available from: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers.
- Setó-Salvia N, Clarimón J. Genética en la enfermedad de Alzheimer. Revista de Neurología. 2010; 50: 360-4.
- Alzheimer’s Association. Las 10 Señales [Internet]. Alzheimer’s Association. Available from: https://www.alz.org/alzheimer-demencia/las-10-senales.
- Espín J. Factores de riesgo asociados a pacientes con enfermedad de Alzheimer y sus cuidadores principales. Revista Cubana de Medicina General Integral. 2020;36( 1 ): e1138.
- López Locanto Óscar. Tratamiento farmacológico de la enfermedad de Alzheimer y otras demencias. Archivos de Medicina Interna. 2015;37( 2 ): 61-67.
- Barranco-Quintana, J. L., et al. “Factores de riesgo de la enfermedad de Alzheimer.” Revista de Neurología 40.10 (2005): 613-618.
- Tamayo, Aida Elizabeth Iparraguirre, Claudia Hernández Pérez, and Jairo Jesús Gómez Tejeda. “Tratamientos paliativos en la enfermedad de Alzheimer.” 16 de abril 59.275 (2020): 1-6.