Alzheimer’s disease shortens a person’s life expectancy. Not because of the disease itself, but the complications that result from it. People with Alzheimer's become less able to take care of themselves, and any illnesses, such as infection, are more likely to drastically get worse. Caregivers usually are finding a hard time in identifying complications because the patient becomes progressively less able to communicate if they are unwell, uncomfortable, or in pain. Two of the common complications which lead to death for people with severe Alzheimer’s are ulcers and pneumonia.
At this point in time there is no way a physician can definitely diagnose Alzheimer’s disease even using all the Alzheimer testing presently available. A doctor will however be able to diagnose most cases of Alzheimer’s by ruling out other conditions. However, a 100% definitive diagnosis can only be achieved after death, by linking clinical course with a microscopic examination of the brain tissue and pathology in an autopsy and detection of the presence of plaques and tangles. There is no basic Alzheimer testing such as blood test, urine test, biopsy or image scan for diagnosing this illness.
Many doctors today have adopted several methods and tools for Alzheimer testing that will help them determine fairly accurately whether a person has the disease. Ruling out other conditions is one of the main Alzheimer testing tools that doctors use. They will usually carry out a regimen of tests to rule out other conditions which relatively have symptoms that are present in Alzheimer’s. Some of the conditions that need to be ruled out are anxiety, brain tumor, depression, infection, thyroid problems and vitamin deficiency.
Doctors may also request others tests such as blood tests, neuropsychological testing, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, and computerized tomography (CT) scan in diagnosing Alzheimer’s.
Blood tests are used to identify if the patient has thyroid disorder or vitamin deficiency for a doctor to rule out these conditions. MRI and CT scans help assess the size and shape of the organs. These types of test tell the doctor what the organs look-like. On the other hand, PET scan, which uses color images of the functional processes in the human body, helps the doctor in identifying how the organs are working. It is a very useful in Alzheimer testing to help medical scientists properly diagnose the disease.
These tests may be repeated to give doctors enough necessary information about how the person’s brain functioning is changing over time.
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex disease and there no single magic pill at this time to prevent or even cure it. Medical science is at this time putting focus on several different aspects such as maintaining cognitive functioning, managing behavioral symptoms, and delaying or preventing the disease.
Although Alzheimer’s is a disease that has no cure and will hinder the patient in many ways, early diagnosis is still beneficial for several reasons. Undergoing Alzheimer testing and starting treatment in the early stages can help slow down the progression of the disease albeit the underlying diseases cannot be changed. It will also help families plan for the future, make living arrangements, take care of financial and legal matters and develop support networks.
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