What is dementia?
Dementia, in simple terms, is defined as the loss of memory. This is becoming more common in recent years as our population is getting older. However, contrary to popular belief, dementia is not simply related to aging: rather there is an underlying (pathological) trigger which leads to this disorder happening. Unlike some other diseases such as strokes which can lead to brain damage, the higher levels of consciousness remain intact in people with dementia.
What types of dementia are there?
There are two types of dementia that exist: degenerative and non-degenerative dementia. What degeneration entails is that during the course of the disease, the neurons in the brain begin to break down which leads to the development of symptoms. There are five subcategories of dementia:
- Primary neuro-degenerative disorders
- Metabolic and nutritional diseases
- Vascular and traumatic diseases
- Other miscellaneous disorders relating to dementia
What are primary neuro-degenerative disorders?
Primary neurodegenerative disorders include some of the most infamous types of dementia. There are six types of neurodegenerative disorders and they include the following:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Motor neuron disease
- Progressive supranuclear palsy
- Pick disease
What are metabolic and nutritional diseases?
These diseases entail a deficiency in either hormones or in certain vitamins or minerals. There are four types of metabolic and nutritional diseases, and they include the following:
- Endocrine diseases
- Pellagra (niacin or vitamin B3 deficiency)
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Thiamine deficiency (otherwise known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)
What infections can lead to dementia?
There are multiple types either directly or via agents that can lead to dementia either directly or via the side effects from the host immune system typing to fight the infection. Some disease include:
- Chronic meningitis
- HIV encephalopathy (AIDS dementia)
- Viral encephalitis
- Prion-associated disorders such as fatal familial insomnia and CJD (Cruzfeldt-Jakob disease)
What are the vascular and traumatic diseases associated with dementia?
Vascular dementia happens as a result of infarcts happening either in the white matter, grey matter or in multiple areas. There are two trauma-related causes of dementia: they include chronic subdural haematoma and ischemic/hypoxic brain injury.
What other types can lead to dementia?
There are three other triggers that can lead to dementia:
- Neuronal storage disorders
- Brain tumours
- Metal-related toxic injury: examples of metals include mercury, lead and manganese.