Alzheimer’s disease- Causes and symptoms

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Alzheimer’s disease is never a part of the normal aging process. It is a brain disorder which cannot be stopped or reversed. Memory, thinking, learning and organizing skills of a person suffering from Alzheimer’s will be severely affected. At its worst stage, an Alzheimer’s patient will even find it difficult to carry out his/her day to day activities without the help of others.

Alzheimer’s disease was discovered in 1906 by German neurologist Alois Alzheimer. He was studying the case of a middle aged woman named Auguste D. After her death, he found senile plaques and nuerofibrillary tangles while performing her autopsy. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a form of dementia. 

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s worsen over time. Starting off as mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease progresses to later stages, where the affected individuals will find it difficult to carry on conversations, recognize family and friends or even take care of themselves. 

The number of people having Alzheimer’s disease rises every decade beyond the age of 60. According to the Alzheimer’s association, around 106 million people will be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide by 2050. 


Alzheimer Causes

The abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain causes Alzheimer’s. The proteins are called the amyloid protein and the tau protein. They cause death of brain cells. 

There are over 100 billion nerve cells and other cells in the human brain. The nerve cells work together to facilitate functions such as thinking, learning, remembering and planning. Amyloid protein accumulates in the brain forming large masses called plaques. Tau protein forms into tangles.These plaques and tangles act as a hindrance to the communication between nerve cells, making it difficult for the nerve cells to carry out their functions. The symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients are a result of the slow and ongoing death of nerve cells, which happens primarily in the area of the brain that controls memory.


Symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from patient to patient. The symptoms of the deadly disease include memory loss, this is considered as one of the primary symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The patients tend to put objects in odd places and get confused about events, time and place. 

People suffering from Alzheimer’s will often repeat their questions and will have trouble managing their money and bills. They might take longer to perform familiar tasks and will quite often get lost in their own thoughts. 

Alzheimer’s patients will suffer from sleeplessness. Agitation, anxiety and aggression are other symptoms of the disease.  

Poor judgment, failing to recognize family and friends and difficulty in dressing or cooking are common among Alzheimer’s patients. Hallucinations, delusions or paranoia are other common symptoms among Alzheimer’s patients.

Alzheimer’s patients will have a hard time reading, writing and working with numbers. They will find walking and swallowing difficult as well. 



Alzheimer’s is confirmed in a patient taking into consideration their medical history. Doctors even consider family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other memory disorders. 

Other common tests for diagnosing Alzheimer’s include blood and urine tests, mental status testing, neuropsychological testing, spinal tap and brain imaging tests.

Brain imaging tests include Computed tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging and Positron emission tomography.


There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The available medications can only temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms. They can also help in dealing with the behavioral problems that may appear during the course of the disease.

The Food and Drug Administration (USA) has approved four medications representing two drug classes for treating Alzhiemer’s disease. The two drug classes are cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA antagonist.  

Cholinesterase inhibitors are used to treat the symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Cholinesterase inhibitors include Donepezil, Rivastigmine and Galantamine. 

NMDA antagonist is approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. 

These medicines shall be taken strictly under doctor’s prescription. 

Scientists across the world are working tirelessly to find ways to stop or slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease before it starts.

Practicing a healthy lifestyle, staying physically and mentally active will help in reducing the risk of ‘Alzheimer’s’. For example playing board games, doing crossword puzzles and playing musical instruments will help in keeping the mind fresh. Staying socially active by frequently talking to friends and family and participating in group activities may also lower the risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Let’s pray for a world without Alzheimer’s!

Check your knowledge

The abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain causes Alzheimer’s.

The proteins which cause Alzhiemer’s are called the amyloid protein and the tau protein. 

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