According to WHO estimates, more than 55 million people worldwide have dementia, with over 4 million residing in India alone. And because of the country’s growing older population and lower fertility rate, the figure is expected to rise to 11.4 million by 2050. Besides, more women than men are affected by it.
Dementia is a canopy term that describes a declining cognitive function, impeding a person’s life and ability to perform everyday activities. While memory loss is the most characteristic feature of dementia, the way you speak, think, feel, and behave also changes over the years. Even so, the stretch it takes for each person differs.
As a group of symptoms and not a disease, dementia can be caused by many things. Symptoms of some causes are reversible and improve with treatment; several others that cause dementia aren’t curable. That being said, if you notice any dementia symptoms, consult your doctor right away so that the conditions that caused memory loss and confusion can be found and treated immediately.
Symptoms of Dementia
Everyone’s experience with dementia is unique, rooted in the causes, type of dementia one suffers, and cognitive functioning before becoming ill. However, there are some crucial cognitive changes that you should watch for:
Causes and risk factors of dementia
Dementia is caused by various diseases and factors that slowly destroy healthy brain cells, causing the brain to shrink in different parts. Included are, but not limited to:
- Vascular disorders
- Degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and Parkinson’s disease (get worse over time)
- Alcohol or substance overdose
- Nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
- Thyroid hormone imbalance
- Side -effects of certain medication
- Subdural hematoma
Additionally, a few physical and lifestyle risk factors are known to play a role in causing dementia-associated brain changes. These include:
- Old age (significant risk)
- Family history of dementia
- Viral brain infection
- Unhealthy diet pattern
- Alcohol use and smoking in long term
- Sleep apnea
- Race and ethnicity
Diagnosis and treatment
Several conditions have similar symptoms to dementia which are often difficult to distinguish, so it’s crucial to receive an accurate diagnosis to get rightly treated. Your doctor generally reviews your medical and family history to get a clue about whether your cognitive impairment is related to any risk factors and conditions. They may also perform a physical exam, blood tests, and other cognitive scans and procedures to rule out some potential causes. Not often genetic testings are also done to determine your and your family member’s risk for dementia.
Dementia treatments are coherently reliant on the dementia causes. Most indications are easily treatable with therapy and lifestyle changes. However, if the cause of dementia is severe and cannot be cured, treatment will focus on managing symptoms using medications such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors to enhance cognition. Some prescribed medicines also address patients’ emotional concerns and blood pressure levels.
In about 10% of women, genetic abnormalities caused by inherited chromosome change or a single-gene variant passed from parent to child may lead to infertility. However, many other factors such as environment and lifestyle have a much greater effect.
When both partners have genetic defects, a baby does not develop at the embryonic or cell level, which could result in infertility.
Contrary to male infertility, female infertility has a complex genetic basis. While it is not clear which genes cause infertility among Indian women, published evidence suggests that alteration in BMP15, PGRMC1, FMR1 locus on the X chromosome, and 80 other genes have a negative impact on the reproductive function in some other populations.
Many genetic tests are available to determine whether you carry a genetic change that could be impacting your fertility. For example, your doctor may ask for karyotyping, preconception genetic testing or DNA sequencing of specific genes as part of the diagnosis.
Genetic conditions that may cause infertility in women include Turner's syndrome, Fragile X-associated Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (FXPOI), Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), and other chromosomal disorders.
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