Dementia symptoms: Frequent toilet trips could be a sign of brain decline
Dementia: Expert discusses the signs and symptoms
Dementia symptoms depend on the region of the brain affected by brain damage. Vascular dementia is a common type of dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, which damages and eventually kills brain cells. The nature of the damage products quite distinct symptoms related to cognition, such as slowness of thought and problems with concentration.
Other symptoms that someone with vascular dementia may experience vary between the different types.
Subcortical vascular dementia – which is caused by diseases of the very small blood vessels that lie deep in the brain – can even produce symptoms that surface when you go to the toilet.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society (AS), early loss of bladder control is common.
“The person may also have mild weakness on one side of their body, or become less steady walking and more prone to falls,” explains the health body.
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Other symptoms of subcortical vascular dementia may include clumsiness, lack of facial expression and problems pronouncing words.
How to respond
“See a GP if you think you have early symptoms of dementia, especially if you’re over 65 years of age,” advises the NHS.
As the health body explains, if it’s found at an early stage, treatment may be able to stop vascular dementia getting worse, or at least slow it down.
“If you’re worried about someone else, encourage them to make an appointment with a GP and perhaps suggest that you go with them,” it adds.
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Am I at risk?
Research suggests leading an unhealthy lifestyle can raise your risk of developing vascular dementia.
In fact, most of the factors that contribute to underlying cardiovascular disease also raise your risk of vascular dementia.
The following strategies may reduce the risk of developing diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels — and may help protect the brain:
- Don’t smoke.
- Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar within recommended limits
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
As the Alzheimer’s Association points out, controlling risk factors that may increase the likelihood of further damage to the brain’s blood vessels is an important treatment strategy.
“There’s substantial evidence that treatment of risk factors may improve outcomes and help postpone or prevent further decline,” explains the AS.
Your risk of vascular dementia is also higher if you’ve had a stroke.
As Mayo Clinic explains, you can develop vascular dementia after a stroke blocks an artery in your brain, but strokes don’t always cause vascular dementia.
“Whether a stroke affects your thinking and reasoning depends on your stroke’s severity and location,” says the health body.
As Mayo Clinic notes, vascular dementia can also result from other conditions that damage blood vessels and reduce circulation, depriving your brain of vital oxygen and nutrients.
What’s more, vascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease often occur together.
Studies show that many people with dementia and evidence of brain vascular disease also have Alzheimer’s disease.
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