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What Is Dementia and How Is It Diagnosed?

What Is Dementia and How Is It Diagnosed?

Age-related conditions, particularly those impacting cognitive abilities, are poorly understood by the general public, which can lead to anxiety and misconceptions about the condition. It is important to understand how to identify the symptoms of dementia in order to get the best treatment from your physician.

Dementia is not a specific condition, it is a “catch-all” term for any condition in which mental ability has declined enough to interfere with the functions of daily life. Dementia is often caused by Alzheimer’s disease, though not always.


What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Memory loss is just one example of the symptoms associated with dementia. However, simple forgetfulness or absent-minded behaviors are not enough to warrant a diagnosis of dementia. True memory loss means being unable to recognize immediate family members or close friends, forgetting where one is or how to get home, and other debilitating memory loss problems.

Furthermore, many people still hold the misconception that serious mental decline is a normal part of the aging process. This is not true, and if you or a loved one experience serious impairment in any two of the following mental functions, contact a physician immediately:

  • Language and communication
  • Focus and ability to maintain attention
  • Visual perception
  • Judgment and reasoning
  • Memory

Dementia is often depicted as inevitable or untreatable, which could not be further from the truth.


Treating Dementia

If identified in the beginning stages, dementia is treatable and sometimes reversible. Speak to a neurologist about the causes of your dementia and how to treat them. Some examples of effective treatments are:

  • Taking an inventory of medications currently being taken, some may lead to memory loss or confusion, especially in older patients
  • Treating an infection such as encephalitis
  • Anti-depressants sometimes help, as depression is sometimes misdiagnosed as dementia in older patients
  • Removal of a brain tumor or other ways to reduce pressure on the brain
  • Thyroid hormones are effective in treating hypothyroidism
  • A B12 deficiency could be the culprit; taking vitamin supplements may help

In some cases, the causes of dementia in a particular patient may be untreatable. In this case, it is important to research palliative care options. Many associate palliative care with end of life services, but it is also designed to improve the quality of life for patients and caregivers.

Work with your neurologist and palliative care providers to create a care plan. A diagnosis of dementia can lead to unbearable anxiety, fear, or even anger. Home care and maintaining independence for the patient are ways to ease the transition into a new lifestyle.


Contact one of the professionals at KCA Neurology to find out how we can help treat dementia you or a loved one may experience.


Characteristics and Treatment for ADHD

Characteristics and Treatment for ADHD

According to the Fifth Edition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is used by practitioners to diagnose psychiatric conditions, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by a variety of symptoms related to general difficulty with impulsivity and concentration. This diagnosis is often poorly understood, and navigating the therapeutic process can be anxiety-inducing for patients or guardians of children with ADHD.

Knowledge is the most important tool and can enable people to identify the signs of ADHD and have an effective discussion with a neurologist. Here is a helpful framework for understanding the condition and how it is diagnosed.


General Characteristics 

ADHD presents with symptoms that can be classified as impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity.

  • Inattention
  • Difficulty focusing on one thing
  • Easily distracted and bored
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fidgeting
  • Talking nonstop
  • Continuous movement
  • Impulsivity
  • Very impatient
  • Shows emotions without consideration for others
  • Often interrupts conversations

Some or all of these behaviors may characterize the patient’s general demeanor. However, some of these actions may be a facet of their person’s personality and not ADHD related.


Treatment Options

Meeting with therapists and physicians will help determine patients’ best options. For children they may need only minor adjustments to their diet or living environment to see immediate behavior benefits. Medical professionals will often provide useful advice on how to apply these methods to help your child.

For adults and children there are many excellent treatment options that involve medication. When impulsive behavior is very severe, and it impedes with a person’s ability to communicate or learn new skills, certain medications can enable them to maintain focus and avoid the feelings of lethargy common in those with ADHD.


How to Determine the Right Treatment 

Researchers have studied ADHD and its most common treatments since the 1970s. This has enabled them to assess the long-term viability of various methods.

The National Institute of Health recommends treatment with medication and therapy for most patients diagnosed with ADHD. While there is some difficulty assessing the outcomes of medication alone, those patients who used both were shown to have higher quality of life.

Remember, consult with a neurologist or physician and ask questions regarding the details of recommended treatments. At KCA Neurology we help ADHD patients from ages 16 and up. To learn more, contact us today at (615) 550-1800.


Understanding and Treating Diabetic Neuropathy

Understanding and Treating Diabetic Neuropathy

Those suffering from diabetes may experience many physical symptoms that could be caused by central nervous system dysfunction, known as neuropathy. This can be frightening for patients, but there is hope for alleviating pain and mending nerves.

Understanding how to recognize neuropathy enables patients to get the treatments they need before too much damage is done. Those with diabetes can protect themselves from permanent damage by consulting their physician.


The Common Signs of Neuropathy

The condition known as peripheral neuropathy gets its name from how it impacts the nerves related to and located near the extremities, such as the hands and feet. Depending on the types of nerves affected, patients will show different symptoms.

Damage to sensory nerves is related to tingling, numbness, pain, and burning sensations. This is due to the crossing or destruction of signals that the brain needs to process touch and other sensory functions.

Motor nerves regulating movement and neuropathy may cause uncontrollable twitching, weakness, or cramps. Untreated, this can lead to paralysis and loss of mobility and dexterity. Symptoms related to autonomic nerve dysfunction are more difficult to identify, as they are often associated with unrelated conditions. These nerves govern automatic bodily functions such as breathing and digestion.

Autonomic nerve damage is related to a variety of symptoms such as diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, and inability to regulate blood pressure, which is connected to dizziness and fainting. Some may even be unable to produce sweat and develop intolerance to heat.


How to Treat Neuropathy Related to Diabetes 

Neuropathy is the most common complication associated with diabetes. It is notoriously difficult to treat, and many have suffered with it for years.

The cause of neuropathy is thought to be damage to blood vessels connected to the nervous system caused by hyperglycemia. However, it generally progresses slowly, and positive results have been achieved by glycemic regulation and the use of antidepressant or anticonvulsant medications.

Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are helpful in treating the pain associated with neuropathy and are generally used on a first-line basis to help patients through the therapeutic process. In addition, tight control of glycemic index is essential to long-term relief from neuropathy.


Never Lose Hope

Diet and exercise are the best choices for treating neuropathy, emphasizing the old “use it or lose it” motto. In addition to lifestyle changes, consult with a physician about treatment options that will enable you to regain mobility and reduce pain.

To learn or seek treatment, contact KCA Neurology at 615.550.1800.


Botox: Migraine

Botox: Migraine

What is Botox?
Botulinum toxin Type A (Botox) and Type B (Myobloc) are toxins produced by bacteria and then purified for medical usage. The toxin blocks the signal from nerves to muscles. It is injected into the skin or deeper into the muscle. As a result, the muscles reduce their contraction resulting in reduction of painful muscle spasms and/or the relaxation of wrinkles.

What should I do to prepare for the procedure?
Wear clothing that allows for easy access to the affected area if possible. No other preparation is needed.

What can I expect to happen during the procedure?
The injection itself is completed while you are seated or lying down. The area will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. The “Botox” is then injected directly into the skin or muscle. The procedure frequently involves several injections in a small area.

How long will it take?
The actual injections take only a few minutes, but this will vary depending on the number of sites that are injected.

Will it hurt?
You should only feel the typical mild to moderate discomfort associated with an injection.

What should I do after the procedure?
You may be asked to limit your activity for several days after the injection. The pain may actually be worse for a day or two after the injection. Treat this pain with ice or cold packs (15-20 minutes at a time, for a few times each day). Do not use heat for the first 48 hours after the injection.
Make sure to call your doctor if you have severe pain, a fever, or any significant swelling or redness around the area of injection.

How long will it take to work?
While many people experience relief within 10 days, the maximal effect may take up to four weeks.