Diagnosing Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease is a devastating condition that can be very difficult to detect. The only true way that we have of diagnosing the condition is to perform an autopsy and note the presence of amyloid plaque in the brain - it's a type of abnormal growth that is only present in those with an Alzheimer's condition. Since this is hardly helpful for diagnosing the disease, since it can only be checked for after a person has died, doctors employ several methods of testing to ensure that Alzheimer's disease is present. Doctor's cannot give a surefire diagnosis of Alzheimer's, but through the use of tests, they can often rule out any other type of mental disorder that may be causing the problem. In this article, we'll try to explain some of the tests that doctors use to pin down the cause of a mental problem.

One of the most important tests in a doctor's repertoire for checking for Alzheimer's disease is a mental examination. Doctors can better determine a patient's mental abilities by subjecting them to tests that require them to focus on thinking through difficult questions. They will test the patient's ability to keep their attention focused, and their ability to learn properly. They will also examine a patient's ability to recall information and give them tests of language. The doctors will then compare the patient's test results to test results from other people around their age and education level. If the patient appears to be an outlier, they may be at risk for Alzheimer's.

Another useful tactic in determining the significance of a mental problem is for the doctor to interview those close to the patient. Family members and loved ones usually can detect a difference in behaviors in the patient, and for that reason, they can be crucial to helping the doctor to determine if mental decline is present. The doctor will also perform a physical on the patient and inquire about any possible abuses that may cause trauma to the thought process, such as drug usage, alcohol abuse, and head injuries. Blood tests may also be taken to determine if a lack of proper diet is contributing to a person's memory loss as opposed to Alzheimer's disease.

Viewing the structure of the brain can be helpful for doctors in diagnosing Alzheimer's. For that reason, if a doctor suspects that Alzheimer's may be present, they may employ a computed tomography scan or a magnetic resonance imaging scan to view the patient's brain. These tests may not be able to detect the presence of amyloid plaque, but they are efficient when it comes to seeing how the brain operates, which can help a doctor to perform a proper diagnosis.

Once again, diagnoses for Alzheimer's rely on a doctor's intuition and knowledge of the disease. There's no 'smoking gun' when it comes to the disease, and so you must trust your doctor to give you the right information. Alzheimer's is a terrible problem to face, but it's important to get it diagnosed early if you are suspectful. In the disease's later stages, you may be unable to delay the patient's mental decline.

Alzheimer's Disease on the Web

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