Alzheimer’s disease (AD) stands as the predominant cause of dementia globally. While memory loss remains its hallmark symptom, Alzheimer‘s disease can also manifest in lesser-known ways.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects the brain, leading to a gradual decline in cognitive function and memory. It accounts for a significant portion of dementia cases. Over time, Alzheimer’s leads to a decline in various cognitive functions, including problem-solving, language skills, and spatial awareness. Early diagnosis is crucial for managing the disease effectively. Early interventions, such as medication and lifestyle changes, can slow down its progression and alleviate some symptoms.
Early diagnosis is crucial for managing Alzheimer’s disease
Identifying these less common symptoms is crucial for facilitating early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day 2023 (September 21), Dr Sudhir Kumar – Sr. Consultant Neurologist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad – tells some lesser-known symptoms of the disease.
1. Loss of smell: Impaired sense of smell is an early feature of AD. Clinical observations suggest that approximately 85% of patients with early-stage AD exhibit olfactory dysfunction. It is important to detect patients with olfactory deficit (via odour identification test), as this will help in early diagnosis of AD. Therapies for AD are most effective in early stage.
2. Language dysfunction: In some cases of AD, memory impairment may not be the first or the most important complaint. Instead, they present themselves with difficulty in finding appropriate words while speaking and impaired comprehension while talking to others. They may also have difficulty in naming objects and repeating words or sentences. This variant of AD is known as logopenic variant of AD.
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3. Prominent and early visual disturbances: Patients may have visuospatial disorientation. They may find it difficult to locate the toilet or kitchen in their own homes or may not be able to locate a Kirana store or friend’s home that they often visited earlier. They may have difficulty in identifying objects or understanding their functions despite having normal vision. These visual symptoms occur in a variant of AD, known as posterior cortical atrophy.
4. Early personality and behavioral changes such as disinhibition, apathy or compulsiveness. This is seen in “frontal variant” of AD.