Differences between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Misperception and confusion is often found with the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but there is a distinctive difference. Dementia is a symptom that can be caused by many disorders and Alzheimer’s disease is the type and cause of dementia. When someone has dementia, it means that there will be significant memory problems and other mental troubles. These problems are severe enough to affect the everyday living.

Dementia may be caused by any of the followings: high fever, AIDS, dehydration, systemic lupus erythematosus, hydrocephalus, Lyme disease, vitamin deficiencies, long-term drug or alcohol abuse, poor nutrition, hypercalcemia, hypothyroidism, brain tumor and multiple sclerosis. Dementia can also result from a reaction to medication or a head injury that causes bleeding in the brain. Dementia includes deterioration in memory, and intellectual incapability such as inability to generate comprehensible speech and understand written or spoken language; inability to recognize objects; inability to think conceptually, plan, make sound judgments and carry out complex tasks. The deterioration in intellectual abilities must be severe enough to restrict with daily life. Different types of dementia are related with different symptom, patterns and microscopic brain abnormalities.

Alzheimer’s disease causes drastic changes in the brain. As healthy brain substance degenerates, people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease experience a decline in memory and the capability to use their brain to do tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder. It destroys brain cells, causing problems with behavior, memory and thinking severe enough to affect work, or social life. Alzheimer’s disease is fatal and gets worse over time. Alzheimer’s disease is predominantly common in elder persons. Since Alzheimer’s disease is the common cause of dementia, it is frequently associated with the general term dementia. Though, there are many other reasons of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia and that is the fundamental difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Even though Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for 60-70 percent cases of dementia, other conditions that cause dementia include: Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia, Frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy Bodies. In the early phases of a disease, there may be some differences between the diseases. For instance, in dementia with Lewy Bodies early symptoms may not be forgetfulness, but recurrent visual hallucinations, lowered attention span and variability between phases of lucidity followed by phases of confusion. Nevertheless, as the specific disease progresses, more portions of the brain become involved, and the difference between the various causes of dementia becomes vague and delicate.

Physicians at times prefer the word “dementia”, perchance because Alzheimer’s has become a heavy and complicated word. “Dementia” someway sounds less terrifying to many people, and now even the specialists have started using this word. Differentiating among other kinds of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is not simple and direct as defining these terms. In reality, people and their disordered behaviors are more complicated than the simple definitions of the disorders. Remember, the chief difference among Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is that Alzheimer’s disease is a definite disorder and dementia is an indication of Alzheimer’s.

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