10 Types of Dementia – From Picks to Lewy

Types of Dementia

Today, we are going to look at 10 types of dementia, what comes with them, and some interesting facts maybe you had no idea about before.

Dementia is an umbrella term that’s used to describe severe changes in the brain that result in memory loss. Not only can it change someone’s ability to take care of themselves, but their entire personality can become totally different.

Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is the most common and the one people most recognize. In fact, 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases fall under this category. What happens is Abnormal deposits of proteins form amyloid plaques and tau tangles throughout the brain.

But it’s not just memory loss that comes with this disease. Early signs can include depression, forgetting what day or year it is, or losing things and being unable to retrace your steps to find them again.

  • Difficulty speaking or writing
  • Slow or poor judgment
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Losing track of time

Despite plenty of research, doctors still don’t have a firm handle on the disease. They know that lifestyle and genetics play a large role and that it usually comes when someone is older. There are different kinds of medications to try to treat it, but none are 100% effective. Many of them simply manage the symptoms or slow them down.

  • Trouble recognizing sights/sounds that were familiar before
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Being confused or agitated
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Frequently falling
  • Shaky hands
  • Impulsive behavior

Vascular Dementia

This comes from having a big stroke or the smaller “silent” ones that people don’t notice (and therefore go untreated). Basically, a clot slowed or stopped blood to a certain area of the brain. And while Alzheimer’s comes with the first signs of memory loss, the vascular version first appears as poor judgment or trouble planning, organizing, and making decisions

  • Trouble recognizing sights/sounds that were familiar before
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Being confused or agitated
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Frequently falling
  • Shaky hands

Dementia With Lewy Bodies

Another name is Lewy body dementia. It’s caused by protein deposits in nerve cells. These interrupt chemical messages in the brain and cause memory loss and disorientation.

The interesting with this one is that the patient can also have the normal symptoms of shaking or becoming lost/disoriented, but they can also suffer from hallucinations too. With cognitive decline, they can also experience…

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Disorganized or illogical ideas
  • Inability to concentrate, pay attention, or stay alert
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Reduced facial expression

Parkinson’s Disease

This is another version that more people might have heard of. People with this disease get dementia as a bioproduct about 50% to 80% of the time. It’s very similar to DLB (mentioned above) with most of the same symptoms.

The hard thing with Parkinson’s is that symptoms come on small and can go unnoticed for years before a diagnosis can be made. These can include…

  • anxiety
  • restless leg syndrome
  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • constipation
  • loss of smell
  • reductions in sexual desire
  • REM sleep behavior
  • depression
  • excessive sweating

Frontotemporal Dementia

This is used to describe several types of dementia that have one thing in common: They affect the front and side parts of the brain, which are the areas that control language and behavior. Another name is Pick’s disease.

Doctors don’t know much about it, but they do know it can affect people as young as 45, hereditary, or come from a certain mutated gene. People with this dementia can have…

  • Sudden lack of inhibitions in personal and social situations
  • Movement problems, such as shakiness, balance, and spasms
  • Problems coming up with the right words for things
  • Personality and behavior changes

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

This is the rarest condition in which proteins called “prions” cause normal proteins in the brain to fold into abnormal shapes. The damage leads to dementia symptoms that happen suddenly and quickly get worse. Only 1 in 1 million are found to have it each year.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Other names are Wernicke’s disease or Wernicke’s encephalopathy. It’s caused by the lack of thiamine (Vitamin B1) which can lead to bleeding in the lower parts of the brain. And we know what happens when the brain becomes damaged. It’s mostly seen in people who drink heavy amounts of alcohol.

It can lead to loss of muscle coordination, double vision, etc. But did you know that the first stage is Wernicke disease? And if it’s left untreated, it can form into the advanced version of Korsakoff syndrome.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s is genetic – with the two versions being juvenile (quite rare) or adult-onset (usually around the 30s or 40s). The condition causes a premature breakdown of the brain’s nerve cells. Symptoms can include…

  • Shaking or jerking
  • Trouble walking or swallowing
  • Impulse control issues
  • Trouble speaking clearly
  • Difficult learning new things
  • Problems focusing on tasks

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

NPH causes a build of excess fluid in the brain’s ventricles. There’s meant to be fluid there, around the spine and brain, but only in a certain amount so it can properly protect these vital areas. But when the fluids build, it puts excess pressure on the brain. Damage that comes from this can lead to dementia.

About 5% of dementia cases are NPH and can come from injuries, bleeding, infections, tumors, or other surgeries.

Mixed Dementia

As the name suggests, this happens when a patient has more than one kind of dementia at the same time (yes, this can happen). The most common is Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Symptoms can be a combination of both diseases and can change depending on treatments, timeline, or a number of other reasons. Take a free online dementia test.

Types of Dementia – End Thoughts

Most people find the idea of losing control of their mind and body a very scary thing. However, with regular doctors’ visits, a healthy lifestyle, a healthy mind, and early testing, there is a lot of people can do. Also, research is never-ending and new treatments are always on the horizon.

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