Essay Preview: Alzheimers
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Alzheimers is a Dementia, which is a brain disorder that affects a persons ability to carry out daily activities. The most well known form of dementia in older people is Alzheimers disease, which involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Alzheimers is one of the deadliest diseases because there is still no cure for this disease and scientists still are yet to find out what causes it. What scientists do know are the symptoms, treatment for the disease, some side effects of those treatments, some idea of what causes the disease, and what age it is more common in. So with the increasingly amount of research and money going into finding a cure to this disease it seems to be a matter of time till the cure is found. Until that happens more and more people who grow over 60 will end up obtaining this debilitating disease. The most important thing is to catch it in the earlier stages when the treatment is the most helpful.
Alzheimers is a very slow moving disease and at first, the only symptom may cause the person to become a little forgetful. Most people with regular forgetfulness do not have do not have Alzheimers disease though. In the early stage of Alzheimers, people may have trouble remembering events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things. They may not be able to solve simple math problems. However, as the disease goes on, symptoms are more noticeable and become more serious enough to cause people with Alzheimers or their family members to seek medical help. The trend of forgetfulness ends up affecting the lives of the people who have the disease. People in the middle stages of Alzheimers may forget how to do simple tasks like brushing their teeth or combing their hair. Eventually the disease gets as bad as the patients begin to not be able to recognize their own family members or places. At this point their lives of being an independent person are over and the victim of the disease ends up needing round the clock care and support.
There still are no cures for Alzheimers but there are different ways to treat the disease. If the person with Alzheimers is not in the final stage of the disease then there are some drugs to slow down the effects of the disease, such as the drugs tacrine (Cognex), donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon), or galantamine (Razadyne). The drugs may help prevent some symptoms from becoming worse, but only for a limited amount of time. Cognex seems to have more side effects though than the other ones. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, sore muscles, headache, dizziness, rapid breathing, increased urination, insomnia, runny nose or mouth, and swelling in legs and feet. One of the more deadly side effects is liver damage, but heart problems and seizures have also been reported. There is one drug, memantine (Namenda), that has been approved to treat severe Alzheimers, although it also only lasts a certain amount of time. Just some of the side effects from the drugs used to treat Alzheimers are sleeplessness, agitation, wandering, anxiety, and depression. Treating these symptoms makes patients more comfortable and makes them easier to care for.
Scientists do not know exactly what causes Alzheimers. Age is probably one of the most figured causes of the disease since it is extremely rare for younger people to get the disease. The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. Scientists are also trying to scan DNA for possible leads that genetics plays a role in Alzheimers cases. One form of Alzheimers, early-onset familial Alzheimers, a rare form of it that usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 60, is inherited. The more common form that many people know for Alzheimers is known as late-onset. The problem is that it is not necessarily hooked with the genes from a family history. The only known possible gene for the late onset Alzheimers is a gene that makes one form of a protein called apolipoprotein E (ApoE). Everyone has ApoE, which helps carry cholesterol in the blood. Only about 15 percent of people have the form that increases the risk of Alzheimers. There probably are more genes like ApoE, that cause the late-onset Alzheimers, but those genes just havent been discovered yet. Scientists are now trying to study education, diet, and environment to learn what role they might play