Diagnosis of dementia can be challenging. First, your physician will determine if you have an underlying, possibly medical problem causing cognitive problems. A physical exam to inspect blood pressure and laboratory tests can help identify or rule out potential causes of symptoms. An overview of your family medical history can reveal important information about your risk of dementia in Falls Church. Common questions could include whether dementia runs in your family, when and how signs first emerged, behavioral and personality changes and whether you are taking any medications that could cause or worsen symptoms. The procedures listed below may also be used to diagnose dementia:
- Cognitive and neurological evaluations
These tests are used to evaluate cognitive and physical performance. Memory, problem-solving, language and math skills, balance, sensory response, and reflexes are assessed.
- Brain scans
These tests can detect strokes, tumors, and other conditions leading to dementia. Modifications and functions of the brain can also be detected using scans. The following are the main scans done:
- CT is a type of imaging that uses X-rays to create images of the brain and other organs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) creates detailed images of body structures such as tissues, organs, bones, and nerves using magnetic fields and radio waves.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) – uses radiation to produce images of brain activity.
- Genetic evaluations
An individual’s genes cause some dementias. In these cases, a genetic test can determine whether or not a person is at risk for dementia. It is critical to consult with a genetic counselor before and after testing your DNA, family members, and doctor.
- Psychiatric examination
This assessment will aid in identifying whether depression or another mental health disorder is causing or worsening your symptoms.
- Laboratory examinations
Regular blood tests can reveal physical issues that impair brain function, such as a lack of vitamin B-12 or an underactive thyroid gland. The spinal fluid is sometimes tested for infection, inflammation, or markers of certain degenerative diseases.
Dementia is associated with brain damage or loss of nerve cells and connections. Dementia can differ from person to person and cause various symptoms based on the region of the brain that is damaged. Dementias are frequently classified based on what they have in common, like the proteins deposited in the brain or the part of the brain impacted. Some diseases, like those caused by medication reactions or vitamin deficiencies, resemble dementias and may improve with treatment.
Who is prone to dementia?
Dementia becomes more common as individuals age (about one-third of people aged 85 and older may have some dementia), but it is not a normal part of aging. Most individuals live into their 90s and beyond with no signs of dementia. The symptoms of a person can vary depending on the type.
The cause of dementia is uncertain and cannot be easily handled. Acquiring an early treatment can aid in managing the condition and planning. Call Integrated Neurology Services or schedule a meeting today for diagnosis.