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  • Dementia... or could it be something else?

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    I recently came across an article that fascinated me. A woman had been living the past five years with what she was told was a Dementia diagnosis. The 61 year old had started a slow and steady cognitive decline, which was noticed by her family. As well as no longer cooking, keeping her house tidy or washing properly, she started to show worrying signs associated with dementia. She walked naked through the streets near her house in Cape Verde and sometimes appeared to be talking to people who weren't there.

    The 61-year-old was taken to the hospital by her sister after she witnessed her losing consciousness and suffering jerky seizure-like movements. Here, she was given blood tests and a CT scan of her head, both of which showed no signs of abnormalities. An EEG of her brain showed generalized slowing, but no epileptiform activity (EEG patterns consistent with epilepsy). However while in the hospital's care, she went on to have another seizure and was sent home with medication.

    Referred to the Department of Psychiatry at the Nova Medical School, she was found to have a vitamin B12 deficiency. The vitamin, found mainly in fish, meat, dairy, and eggs, is important for brain function as well as forming red blood cells.

    The doctors believe that the deficiency damaged the fatty layer around her spinal cord, which led to the degeneration of her backbone and triggered psychotic symptoms, Brinkwire reports.

    After five years of dementia-like symptoms, the woman was diagnosed with pernicious anemia, an inability to make enough healthy red blood cells, and doctors were able to treat her properly.

    "The patient had a remarkable neuropsychiatric recovery after vitamin replacement and psychopharmacological management," the authors write in the report.

    What are some other possible culprits behind an elderly person’s possible decline besides Dementia?

    Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

    Depression

    Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) – a condition caused by excess cerebrospinal fluid

    Subdural Hematoma

    Dementia and all of it’s related variations are growing rapidly to become one of our most commonly diagnosed conditions. If you have questions about your own health or a loved one’s diagnosis, please consult your physician.

    The entire medical case report is available here: https://casereports.bmj.com/content/12/5/e229044

    Dawn
    May 20, 2019
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