Dementia or Not Dementia That is the Question

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Health month so it’s the perfect time to ask your doctor is it Dementia or not Dementia? Sometimes our busy life leaves us less focused and forgetful, other times, there is a more ominous explanation.

Confusion and disorientation that comes on suddenly may be due to an underlying medical emergency. Once the medical emergency is resolved the appearance of Dementia will reverse itself. This is usually called Delirium.

Serious Health Problems that Look Like Dementia

Sudden Onset

Infections can cause very sudden confusion, disorientation and problems thinking. Infections require medical testing.

Dehydration-Most of us are familiar with movie characters crossing a desert trying to reach a beautiful lake that isn’t there. Dehydration doesn’t just happen in a desert.   The older body does not perspire or get thirsty as much as a younger body. This normal age related change easily leads to dehydration.

Toxic Medication reaction-This may be due to a drug interaction (Did you get a new prescription lately?) or perhaps you have been eating or drinking less than usual so your body was unable to absorb your medication properly.

Head injury-perhaps you fell and banged your head but didn’t think it was serious. You may have bleeding on the brain that you are not aware of.

Diabetic changes in your blood sugar can lead to forgetfulness, disorientation and irritability

Go to the emergency room right away!

Less Sudden

Depression can mimic the agitation, disorientation and forgetfulness of dementia. This is often referred to as pseudo-Dementia and can be treated.

Hypothyroidism, Liver or Kidney disease can all appear as Dementia.

Lyme Disease is transmitted through the bite of a tick. Left untreated, Lyme Disease can cause symptoms of Dementia-sometimes months or even years later.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome also known as Alcohol Related Dementia  is caused by heavy drinking over a long period of time. The brain becomes damaged by the alcohol and lack of nutrition leading to memory loss, confusion, hostility and agitation. In some cases the brain damage can be reversed when drinking alcohol stops.

See your doctor as soon as possible!

Most types of Dementia will progress slowly over time and are irreversible. Pinpointing exactly when Dementia began may be impossible. Delirium begins suddenly-within hours or days. Once the medical cause is identified and resolved you will return to your normal self.

I confess I have walked from one room into the next only to forget why I got up in the first place.  I talked to my doctor-turns out I’m just busy.

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