Alzheimer's has recently been associated with indoor fungal exposure (mycotoxins) and research is now being conducted in this area to further investigate this theory. We shall inform you when these studies are finished in our newsletter.
AD begins slowly. At first, the only symptom may be mild forgetfulness. People with AD may have trouble remembering recent events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things. Simple math problems may become hard to solve. Such difficulties may be a bother, but usually they are not serious enough to cause alarm.
However, as the disease goes on, symptoms are more easily noticed and become serious enough to cause people with AD or their family members to seek medical help. For example, people in the later stages of AD may forget how to do simple tasks, like brushing their teeth or combing their hair. They can no longer think clearly. They begin to have problems speaking, understanding, reading, or writing. Later on, people with AD may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, patients need total care.
An early, accurate diagnosis of AD helps patients and their families plan for the future.
It gives them time to discuss care options while the patient can still take part in making decisions. Early diagnosis also offers the best chance to treat the symptoms of the disease.
Today, the only definite way to diagnose AD is to find out whether there are plaques and tangles in brain tissue. To look at brain tissue, doctors must wait until they do an autopsy, which is an examination of the body done after a person dies. Therefore, doctors must make a diagnosis of "possible" or "probable" AD.
At specialized centers, doctors can diagnose AD correctly up to 90 percent of the time. Doctors use several tools to diagnose "probable" AD:
Information from the medical history and test results help the doctor rule out other possible causes of the person's symptoms. For example, thyroid problems, drug reactions, depression, brain tumors, and blood vessel disease in the brain can cause AD-like symptoms. Some of these other conditions can be treated successfully.
Recently, scientists have focused on a type of memory change called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is different from both AD and normal age-related memory change. People with MCI have ongoing memory problems but do not have other losses like confusion, attention problems, and difficulty with language. Scientists funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) are conducting the Memory Impairment Study to learn whether early diagnosis and treatment of MCI might prevent or slow further memory loss, including the development of AD.
This site is not intended to give medical advice. Seek the advice of a professional for medication, treatment options, and complete knowledge of any symptoms or illness. The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect my peers or professional affiliates. The information here does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.