History of Alzheimer’s Disease

By on August 2, 2014
Old Medicine Background

The history of Alzheimers disease has been a long and winding road which has fortunately, led to the discovery of important information about the causes, symptoms and difficulties of this unfortunate disease. While as of today a definite cure for the disease does not exist, doctors and medical scientists are working towards a day when hope for a cure will exist for people who have it and their children, who may have it in the future. For the current time, the medical community offers treatment for the symptoms to delay the onset of disabling dementia.

What is Alzheimers Disease?

 Essentially, the history of Alzheimer’s disease and the research that has gone into it, suggests that the condition is a neurological disease that occurs in the brain that progresses over time in severity. The condition causes mass loss of irreplaceable neurons and brain cells which lead to a definite decline in a person’s ability to use certain mental capacities such as reasoning, judgment and in some cases will even impede on certain motor and occupational skills.

Brief History of Alzheimer’s Disease

 While this condition has been a frequently used term in the medical circle for many years, no one was sure why certain patients were progressively worse and displaying certain behaviors. It was not until 1906 that the disease was presented to the world after many years of research by a man named Aloysius Alzheimer, a psychiatrist and neuropathologist from Germany.

Dr. Alzheimer discovered a patient in the facility where he worked who had frequent bouts of full memory loss, paranoia and decreased intellectual skills and these symptoms were constantly progressing and becoming worse. The doctor took an interest in to this patient and studied her condition until her death in 1906. When he sent the woman’s brain off for autopsy, doctors discovered that the patient’s brain contained numerous plaques and many neurofibrillary tangles which over many years, doctors and medical experts have discovered are the two main hallmarks of this condition.

Dementia and Alzheimers

 Doctors have been aware of a distinct connection between dementia and Alzheimer’s for many years, however many have trouble understanding that while commonly, people mistake dementia as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, the disease itself is actually one of the many types of dementia.

Dementia is a state of being in which a person’s brain experiences permanent or temporary damage to the point that intellectual mental functioning is likely to suffer. The ‘microscopic brain abnormalities’ that create this condition often present in a person through memory loss, judgment impairment, paranoia, all of which are symptoms of dementia in seniors. While numerous causes for dementia exist, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common preceptor, especially in elderly and aging patients.

Alzheimers Disease Research

medical researchIn the century since the conditions discovery, the history of Alzheimer’s disease has provided us with invaluable information that is still useful in treating Alzheimer’s patients in order to give them the longest lifespan and best quality of life possible.

Currently, science has still not provided a definite and permanent way to cure Alzheimer’s after it is diagnosed, as this would somehow involve reversing the brain damages, tangles, and plaques to allow the brain to revert back to proper function. Furthermore, although they have been hard at work, scientists and medical researchers also have no definite answers as to preventative measures that will keep future patients from suffering from the condition, but they certainly keep trying.

Millions of dollars are set aside each year for this research cause and while the going is slow, the history of Alzheimer’s disease research has provided a number of medications, which are imperative to the treatment of the condition.

While the disease is not reversible, Alzheimer’s patients can slow down the progression of the devastating symptoms allowing them to lengthen the amount of able-minded and able-bodied time they have for themselves and with their family. In many instances, the earlier doctors diagnose the condition, the more likely the patient is to have a long and beneficial relationships with the medications that help keep their brain functioning properly.

 

Alzheimer’s Medications

During the long history of Alzheimers disease, doctors have found that certain medications are helpful in treating the symptoms of this disease as well as slowing their progression. Some of the popular Alzheimer treatment medications include:

  •  Cholinesterase Inhibitors – This type of medication helps to increase the levels of neurotransmitters inside the brain. As the medicine continues to work, it treats problems related to memory, judgment, language and other various necessary intellectual processes. Examples:  Exelon, Razadyne and Aricept.
  • Memantine – This type of prescribed Alzheimer’s medication treats the condition by protecting brain cell damage from a chemical called glutamate in Alzheimer’s patients. Often prescribed alongside the patient’s cholinesterase inhibitor, memantine is helpful in preserving a patient’s memory, language, speech, reasoning, attention and mobility. Examples: Abixa, Memox, Axura and Namenda.

The history of Alzheimer’s disease is long and has provided us not with a cure ,but rather with medications and techniques that are useful in treating the symptoms that it causes. The medical community and families of patients are hopeful that more information will soon come to light that will help doctors and scientists find a way to make eradicating this disease for future generations a possibility.

There are alternative treatments that improve cognitive function such as aromatherapy or practicing mindfulness.

 

http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159442.php

http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-medications-fact-sheet

http://www.ahaf.org/alzheimers/about/understanding/history.html

http://www.caregiver.com/channels/alz/articles/a_brief_history.htm.