Alzheimer’s disease usually develops after the age of 65 years. In cases, when symptoms begin to show effect before 45 years, the condition is termed as early onset alzheimer’s disease aka early – onset AD. It is a rare form and accounts for just 5 -10% of the cases. It is thought that such a type of Alzheimer’s disease develops due to certain genetic issues and hence an individual is affected at an early age. The kind of disease that develops due to faulty genetic traits is known as Familial Alzheimer’s Disease. It requires mention that early onset Alzheimer’s does not progress at a fast rate.
Early Onset Alzheimer’s Symptoms and Signs
Early onset Alzheimer’s symptoms and signs are same as the normal alzheimer’s disease. However, there are a few worrisome signals which one should take note. These include:
- Trouble in following a recipe
- Difficulty in balancing checkbook
- Getting lost when one is on the way to a known place
If the early onset alzheimer’s symptoms appear before the age of 45 years, then one should not waste time and seek medical assistance at the earliest.
The other early onset Alzheimer’s symptoms and signs include the following:
- Individuals forget recent information and important dates and events.
- Tendency to ask about the same information again and again.
- Unexplained mood swings.
- Changes in behavior pattern and personality.
- Social withdrawal.
- Trouble finding the right word to complete a sentence.
- Trouble in carrying out daily activities.
- Confusion about date, place and time.
- Severe loss of memory.
- Depending on others for carrying out their daily activities.
- Having suspicions about family and friends.
- Misplacing things and unable to remember the place.
- Unable to take proper Judgement.
- Having difficulty in judging about depth.
Types of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease:
Early onset AD is basically of 2 types; namely
1.) Common Alzheimer’s Disease
In this type, individuals with early onset AD will have the same kind of disease progression as with older individuals with AD. The majority of the individuals will have this type of Alzheimer’s.
2.) Genetic Alzheimer’s Disease
This is a rare form. In this type, Alzheimer’s take effect due to certain genetic defect in the individuals. They begin to experience the symptoms either in their 30s, 40s or 50s.
Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment:
So far there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, with effective treatment regime, the symptoms can be controlled and individuals can live a healthy and quality life. Several medications and drugs that have been formulated to help slow the cognitive decline and gradually gain control over changes in mood and behavior of the individuals.
Several drugs that have been used for treating this disease condition consist of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Drugs belonging to the group of cholinesterase inhibitors consist of donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine. These drugs work by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for arresting the production of enzymes that would in turn prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. This would allow the production of more acetylcholine, which in turn would promote better cell – to – cell communication. Healthy levels of acetylcholine in the brain would also prevent cognitive decline from progressing at a faster rate. These medications therefore have a preventive effect as well as help control the symptoms from worsening. Research has revealed that about 40 – 60% of individuals benefit from these drugs. However, this class of drugs does not have any effect on the behavior pattern of an individual.
Memantine has been yet another drug that has been proved to be very effective in treatment of Alzheimer’s. This drug works by inhibiting the production of chemical messenger glutamate. It has been seen that increased production of glutamate causes damage to the brain cells. Therefore, the drug memantine has been found to be effective in this regard. It many instances, for additional effect the doctors prescribe memantine, along with cholinesterase inhibitors.
In addition to these drugs, individuals are also advised certain lifestyle changes and exercise as a part of regular regime. A 30 – minute walk daily is essential and has been found to be beneficial in keeping the mood levels high. Also, daily exercise strengthens the muscles and bones and keeps one healthy enough.
Researchers across the globe are carrying out research on Alzheimer’s and are learning something new about the disease with each passing day. These findings would enable them to dig out new therapies and methods to cure the disease condition and also help them manage the disease with much more efficacy.
Experts at the National Institute of Aging say that as of now there is no way to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. However, if the disease is diagnosed in its early stages, then timely intervention can be initiated and the disease can be prevented from progression. Having thus said, it also needs mention that diagnosing the disease in its early stages is not easy. No single test can confirm an Alzheimer’s and a series of diagnostic tools are required for confirming this disease condition. A complete medical and neurological examination will be required to be done to reach conclusion about the cause of the symptoms. In many instances, symptoms of cognitive error can be due to side effects of certain medications the individual may be taking. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that a detailed medical history of the individual should also be considered during diagnosis.