A Little Peek Into What Alzheimer’s Does To The Brain
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a chronic disease that can last lifelong. There is no cure for the condition. However, treatment can help individuals to delay the effects. Alzheimer’s can be understood as a progressive disease that results in memory loss and degradation of other mental functions. This happens because the brain cells and their connections degenerate and die. The condition requires medical diagnosis and usually affects older adults above the age of 65 years.
What are the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
The common symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:
Cognitive: People are unable to form new memories, recollect things from the past, and fail to do simple mental tasks. There is confusion in the evening hours and difficulty in concentration.
Behavioral: Patients feel aggressive, agitated, and a sense of being lost. They get restless and keep repeating their words.
Mood: The mood during Alzheimer’s includes anger, frustration, and general mood swings at any time.
Psychological: It is common to suffer from depression, paranoia, and extreme hallucinations.
Miscellaneous: Other common symptoms of Alzheimer’s are the inability to do simple muscle movements, use words correctly, and eat well.
What does it do to the brain?
Alzheimer’s can cause innumerable molecular and cellular changes in the brain.
Amyloid-plaques are naturally occurring proteins in the brain. One of its forms is beta-amyloid 42. It rises to an abnormal level during Alzheimer’s. When the clumps and accumulated between the neurons, normal cell functioning is disrupted. Thus, there is memory loss.
Neurofibrillary tangles are essentially abnormal deposits of a protein called tau inside brain neurons. Healthy neurons are supported by microtubules that guide nutrients from a cell body. During Alzheimer’s, tau detaches from microtubules and causes tangles in the neurons. This obstructs the neuron’s transport system. Thus, no messages are transmitted, and memory is hindered.
The main task of glial cells is to do away with debris in the brain. A type of glial cell is microglia. They are charged with the responsibility of destroying waste in the brain. In the case of Alzheimer’s, microglia are unable to do its waste clearing task. Thus, there is waste and protein accumulation.
The main result of vascular problems is that the sufferer experiences a reduced flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. A blood-brain barrier is broken down. The barrier is vital to filter harmful agents that enter the brain with glucose. When a case of Alzheimer’s is detected, it has been noted that glucose is also filtered out. Thus, there is no glucose and only toxic beta-amyloid.
Loss of neuronal connections that cause cell death:
Last but not least, neurons get effected throughout the brain. Since they suffer injury and death, the connections between neuron networks are also lost. As a result, the brain begins to shrink at certain places. This process is known as brain atrophy.
Alzheimer’s disrupts normal life because sufferers lose their memory because of the above-stated reasons. It definitely causes a lot of mental and physical stress.