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The Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

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Contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer's is not just an old man's disease. 

We've all heard of Alzheimer's Disease, but do we really understand the disease? According to statistics, there are about 350,000 new cases of Alzheimer's disease diagnosed each year in the United States.

Doing the math, you could have more than 4.5 million Americans by the year 2050 that would be affected by the disease. A more bleak outlook indicates that by 2025, there will be 34 million people worldwide Alzheimer’s disease.

Background Information on Alzheimers and the Doctor the Disease Was Named After

Alzheimer's disease is a known brain disorder that is progressive and irreversible. It is still not known where and how the disorder develops in the human brain neither is there any sure fire cure for the disease. What is known by medical scientists is that the disease attacks slowly.

It takes its time, gnawing slowly at the victims' minds, stealing memories and causing deterioration of brain functions. Alzheimer's is a disease that causes irreversible dementia and is always fatal.

It was German psychiatrist Dr. Alois Alzheimer who first identified the disease. At first he noted the disease's symptoms as "amnestic writing disorder," however when later studies were conducted Dr. Alzheimer found out that the symptoms were more than ordinary memory loss. It was far worse.

Dr. Alzheimer found the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques in the brain. The doctor presented his findings which were accepted by the medical community. And soon enough, by 1910 the name of the disease was accepted and became known as Alzheimer's disease.

Early Symptoms of Alzheimers

The most common early symptoms of the disease are confusion, being inattentive, having trouble with orientation, personality changes, experiencing short-term memory loss, language difficulties and mood swings. Probably the most obvious and striking early symptom of Alzheimer's is loss of short term memory.

At fist the victim will exhibits minor forgetfulness, but as the disease slowly progress he/she will start to forget a lot of things. However, older memories are oftentimes left untouched. Because of this, patients with Alzheimer's will start to be less energetic and spontaneous. As the disease progress, they will have trouble learning new things and reacting on outside stimuli which gets them all confused and causes them to exercise poor judgment. This is considered Stage 1 of the disease.

At Stage 2 the patient will now need assistance in performing complicated tasks. Speech and understanding is evidently slower. At this stage, Alzheimer's victims are already aware that they have the disease which causes a whole lot of problems like depression and restlessness.

At this point, only the distant past can be recalled and recent events are immediately forgotten. Patients will have difficulty telling time, date and where they are.

The final stage is of course the hardest, both for the patient and their family. At Stage 3 the patient will start to lose control of a lot of bodily functions like simple chewing and swallowing. He/she will start getting the needed nutrients through a tube. At Stage 3, the patient will no longer remember basically anyone.  He or she will lose bowel and bladder control and will become vulnerable to third party infections and diseases like pneumonia.  Once the patient become bedridden, things will only get worse. Respiratory problems will become more terrible.

It is apparent that the patient will need constant care. At this point, the most one can do is to make sure that the patient stays as comfortable as possible. At the terminal stage, death is inevitable.

Next Up:  Testing for Alzheimer's Disease