What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia?

Dr Vernon Coleman and Donna Antoinette Coleman FRSA

There are quite a number of reasons why dementia develops and Alzheimer’s disease only accounts for between a half and three quarters of all cases of dementia. There are often slight variations in the symptoms acquired with different types of dementia.

Nearly half of all individuals with Parkinson’s disease develop dementia, though this usually occurs about 10 or 15 years after the disease has first been diagnosed. Dementia can also occur in a condition called Creutzfeld-Jakob disease and Variant Creutzfeld-Jacob disease, which is thought to be acquired through eating contaminated beef. This is the human equivalent of mad cow disease. Dementia also sometimes occurs in the late stages of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There is dementia pugilistica, also known as chronic progressive traumatic encephalopathy. This is a disorder which develops in people who have repeated head injuries – boxers and American football players, for example – and which produces symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. The boxer Muhammad Ali may, in my opinion, have been suffering from this disorder for the last decades of his life. These individuals may also develop normal pressure hydrocephalus. And there is a condition known as vascular dementia.

Quite a number of the less common types of dementia are treatable. So, for example, patients who have developed dementia as a result of having a treatable brain tumour, patients who are suffering from poisoning (as a result of toxins such as lead or mercury), patients who have syphilis, Lyme disease and other infective disorders and patents who have myxoedema (an underactive thyroid gland) may all recover when their conditions are treated. Patients who develop dementia after a sudden head injury may also make a good recovery.

But top of the list of treatable causes of dementia is idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus. And this is, I am ashamed to say, a disorder which many doctors, including specialists have never heard of and know nothing about. For more information about this condition please see the article on this website and Vernon Coleman’s new book (available as an ebook on Amazon).

Copyright Vernon Coleman and Donna Antoinette Coleman 2016

Taken from How to conquer health problems between ages 50 and 120 by Vernon Coleman and Donna Antoinette Coleman (now available as an ebook on Amazon).