Dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting the memory, thinking, and social abilities rigorously enough to interfere with daily functioning. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells that interferes with the ability of the cells to communicate with each other. When brain cells cannot communicate properly it affects the function of thinking, behavior and feelings. Most changes in the brain caused by dementia are permanent and worsen over time. However, thinking and memory problems caused by the following conditions may improve when the condition is treated or addressed:
Dementia is a progressive disease. Symptoms start out slowly and get worse over time. A professional evaluation can detect a treatable condition and early diagnosis allows the patient maximum benefit from available treatments. While symptoms of dementia can vary significantly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia.
The treatment of dementia depends on the root cause of the condition. When caused by degenerative disease or trauma, dementia is irreversible. However, in some cases, when dementia is caused by drugs, alcohol, hormone or vitamin imbalances, or depression it may be reversible. In the case of most progressive dementias, including Alzheimer's disease, there is no cure and no treatment that slows or stops its progression. But there are drug treatments that may temporarily improve symptoms. The same medications used to treat Alzheimer's are among the drugs sometimes prescribed to help with symptoms of other types of dementias. Non-drug therapies can also alleviate some symptoms of dementia.
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