What are different kinds of dementia?
There are many different kinds of dementia with many reasons why a person may develop the forgetfulness that is associated with the condition. Here we take a look some of them.
Some forms of dementia can be reversed such as head injuries that either recover naturally or are treated with medication.
Other types of dementia cannot be treated and are classed as progressive dementias (where there is no cure and the person worsens with time). These form of dementia are caused by having a disease that affects how the brain functions.
So what are the different kinds of dementia?
The single biggest brain disease form of dementia is Alzheimer’s which can account for over 65% of all diagnosed medical disease dementias.
We take a look at some of the many different types of dementias and conditions that may cause a person to develop the condition below.
Head Trauma (dementia caused by a brain injury)
A head injury is the biggest cause of short and long-term memory loss a person is likely to receive outside of a developing medical disease.
The resulting memory loss from a head trauma can be temporary or permanent depending on the severity of the injury to the brain and what areas of the brain are damaged.
A head trauma can be caused by a sudden single injury, like a blow to the head from a car accident or a fall.
Or over a longer period with smaller, multiple injuries, like a boxer or other sports person would sustain over a period of their career in the sport.
Dementia of Lewy Bodies or LBD
Lewy body dementia is the third most common form of dementia behind Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementia’s. The correct name for this disease of the brain is “dementia with Lewy Bodies” or “DLB” as it is also known.
Lewy body affects nearly 10% of all cases of dementia and is caused by a build up of protein deposits in brain cells. Find out more information here about Signs and symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
Brought to the world’s attention in the 1990s with the name “mad cow disease”. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or CJD as it is also known, is caused by slow viruses called prions which are folded proteins that interfere with the brain’s ability to function.
It is found in the central nervous system in proteins which cause the memory problems in sufferers. These cause spongiosis in the brain when the brain cells die which make the brain look like a sponge when viewed under a microscope.
CJD is a rare disease and sufferers usually develop the symptoms very quickly. A person will usually die within 6 months of showing symptoms of CJD. There is no cure at present for CJD.
Huntington’s disease is still not fully know about but the dementia differs from that of other dementia’s because a person is still able to recognise people and familiar places. The disease affects the sufferers movement, memory and emotions.
Huntington’s disease is an hereditary disease and can affect children as well as adults. The symptoms of Huntington’s disease usually become apparent in a persons 30’s or 40s but the dementia can strike at any time.
There is still a lot of research to be done on Huntington’s disease to fully understand the condition.
HIV or AIDS
Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV for short can cause memory problems if the HIV destroys parts of the brain that affect memory. Thus resulting in dementia.
Aids/HIV can affect people of all ages so resulting dementia can also affect people of any age. As medication for HIV is becoming more readily available fewer people are suffering from Aids/HIV related dementia.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of medical disease of the brain amongst the different types of dementia, accounting for around two-thirds of all dementia’s that are diagnosed around the world. As yet there is no cure for this disease but there is a lot of research into the disease going on at the moment and scientists are better understanding how and why the brain is affected.
The disease is named after the German Psychiatrist Dr. Alois Alzheimer who first discovered the disease in 1907.
Alzheimer’s disease is thought to affect over 500,000 people in the UK alone. With over 5,000,000 people affected in the USA. You can find more information here about Alzheimer’s disease.
The majority of people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease will not develop dementia but some Parkinson sufferers are at risk of developing memory problems.
How a person with Parkinson’s disease develops dementia is not yet fully understood.
Picks Disease (frontotemporal Dementia )
Picks disease is a relatively rare form of dementia compared to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Its thought to affect around 5% of progressive dementia’s throughout the world.
It was first described in 1892 by Arnold Pick, hence the name Picks disease.
There is no cure for picks disease and the disease gets progressively worse but it can be treated to help manage the disease if caught early.
Picks disease is caused by a build up of excess protein in the brain cells which leads the brain to slowly shrink.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)
HPH or Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus is a rare form of dementia and is caused when there is a blockage or obstruction in the flow of spinal fluid causing pressure to build up in the tissues of the brain.
There are two types of normal pressure hydrocephalus which are idiopathic and secondary. The word idiopathic means that it has no known cause. The secondary type of normal pressure hydrocephalus can be due to a hemorrhage, tumour, head trauma, CNS infection, or a complication of cranial surgery.
People who have had a history of meningitis, encephalitis or head injury are more likely to develop normal pressure hydrocephalus.
NPH goes undiagnosed in many cases but research shows that the condition can sometimes be treated.
This kind of dementia is because of thiamine (vitamin B) deficiency. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is usually found in chronic alcoholics and is sometimes referred to as wet brain disease.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is also found in people who have a diet that lacks thiamine. Sufferers can stop the deficiency by taking thiamine supplements.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. The disease is caused by damage to the brain’s vascular system. When the vascular system is damaged, blood is unable to reach the brain cells, causing them to die. This dying of the brain cells causes the dementia. You can find more information here about vascular dementia
When somebody is said to be suffering from senile dementia, what the person means is an elderly person with memory problems due to their age. Although when we are older there is more chance of developing one of the different types of dementia.
There is no medical diagnosis of senile dementia because senile is another word for old. It is an old-fashioned term used to describe and elderly person who forgets things easily.
The term ‘senile dementia’ is now obsolete because more is now known medically about the different types of dementia and how the brain is affected, so we can pinpoint the disease more precisely and give the disease a more specific name rather than call it senile dementia.
You can find more information here about senile dementia
Other forms of dementia
There are many other different types of dementia, including people with motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, Binswanger’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy. People diagnosed with these diseases can also be at risk of developing memory loss at different stages of the disease.