Dr Lucio D’Anna is a Consultant Neurologist at the Department of Stroke & Neurosciences at Imperial College London NHS Trust. He is also Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London.
In older people, the first symptoms of pernicious anaemia are often confusion, slowness, irritability, and apathy. An overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), as well as an underproduction (hypothyroidism), can cause dementia-like symptoms. The Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is an irreversible state of confusion and amnesia in alcoholics, resulting from thiamine deficiency due to long-term malnutrition. But consuming excessive amounts of alcohol for a decade or more can also cause impaired thinking that resembles Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
In dementia due to alcoholism, memory, orientation, and attention deteriorate, although verbal skills are not always severely affected. In this type of dementia, abstinence may partly restore mental functioning. Normo-pressure hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) is an excess of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain, which can also cause dementia. This condition can result from head trauma, brain haemorrhage, or meningitis (inflammation of the membrane covering the brain), but most cases occur spontaneously without an obvious preceding illness.
In addition to developing dementia, people with this condition lose bladder control and walk in a slow, hesitant manner, as if their feet are stuck to the floor. Brain tumours can interfere with cognitive functioning and cause personality changes. Depending on their location, they can trigger other symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, or vomiting. Hematomas are blood clots caused by bruising. When they are located in the subdural area, between the brain surface and the thin membrane that covers it, they can cause symptoms that mimic AD.
Getting the right diagnosis is important so that you know what options you have because symptoms subside when the underlying problem is treated. At Dementech Neurosciences, our team of doctors can provide a rapid and accurate diagnosis of these reversible forms of dementia.