Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that leaves irreversible damage to your brain. It directly affects your thinking skills and completely destroys memory over time. Eventually, you will lose your ability to complete the simplest tasks. In the early stage of the disease, you will notice an effect on your intellectual functions only. Late-stage Alzheimer's disease can affect other body systems as well. It is therefore important to have the answer to, "How does Alzheimer's affect the body?" this will help you manage your condition better. Let's find out more about it.
How Does Alzheimer's Affect the Body?
It Affects Your Central Nervous System
Alzheimer's disease is actually a brain disorder and directly affects your central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. Although the cause of Alzheimer's disease remains poorly understood, experts are of the view that amyloid plaques, composed mainly of dead brain cells and specific proteins, progressively accumulate in the brain tissue. Besides, a naturally occurring brain protein called tau also abnormally accumulates in the brain tissue, causing brain cells to malfunction and finally die. When you lose functioning brain tissue, you notice a decline in your memory and learning skills. In the later stages, the disease directly affects your personality, intellectual function, and mood. You will lose your sense of self during the advanced stages and require others for daily care. Patients with advanced Alzheimer's disease do not recognize loved ones and lose their ability to interact with their environment.
It Affects Your Digestive System
Alzheimer's disease affects your digestive system in many ways. You are likely to develop swallowing problems in the earlier stages of the disease. Many patients find it extremely difficult to eat without choking. The accidental entry of liquids and food into the airways may increase the risk of pneumonia which is a common cause of death of people with Alzheimer's disease. People with Alzheimer's disease may also develop an impaired sense of smell and this in turn leads to an impaired sense of taste. These impairments can make eating very difficult. Poor bowel control is also associated with Alzheimer's disease.
It Affects Your Neuromuscular System
You will have a hard time using your muscles properly, especially in the advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease. Many people lose their ability to walk, while others find it difficult to sit in a chair with a proper posture. Your muscles will become increasingly very rigid because of the decline of neuromuscular system control, which makes you more prone to muscular injuries.
What Causes Alzheimer's Disease?
Scientists are constantly looking for answers as to why some people develop Alzheimer's disease. More can be learned by getting more information about tangles, plaques, and other biological features of the disease. The availability of advanced brain imaging techniques has really made it possible for scientists to see the spread of tau proteins and other abnormal features affecting the brain in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. What causes these abnormal changes is still a debatable question, but many researchers believe that age has a role to play here.
With more studies being conducted on normal brain ages, chances are that you will soon have more information about why Alzheimer's disease usually strikes older adults. Preliminary research shows that age-related changes may damage neurons and increase your risk for Alzheimer's disease. Some of these age-related changes include shrinking of some parts of the brain, production of unstable molecules, inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction.
Some scientists believe that genetics have a role to play in the development of Alzheimer's disease. They believe that APOE gene is linked to late-onset Alzheimer in many cases. Interestingly, the gene has many different forms, including APOE ε4, which puts you at an increased risk of developing the disease. However, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone with this gene is going to have Alzheimer's disease, just as many people who do not have this gene eventually end up developing the disease.
Health, Environmental, and Lifestyle Factors
Research has shown that many factors other than genetics may also have a role to play in the development of Alzheimer's disease. While scientists are still researching, there seems to be a connection between cognitive decline and vascular conditions, such as stroke, heart disease, and hypertension. It is thought that controlling risk factors for these serious diseases may actually help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's, but there is no concrete research to confirm it yet. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you age may also help lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
How to Slow Down the Development of Alzheimer
Take Phosphatidylserine (PS)
This naturally occurring fat can help the membranes of brain cells to work properly and transmit electrical signals to other brains cells in a correct way. You may take 100-300 mg of PS a day to find some positive results.
Derived from the Madagascar periwinkle, this supplement help by restoring the flow of blood to your brain. You may start with 5 mg thrice a day, but you should gradually take it to 10 mg thrice a day.
Opt for Acetyl-L-Carnitine
You can find many memory boosting supplements with this ingredient added to them. It works by improving the production of acetylcholine, which may slow down the damage to your brain. Be sure to take 1,500-3,000 mg a day.
You may include melatonin in your diet to improve "sundown syndrome" and sleep problems, which are usually related to Alzheimer's disease. Do not take more than 1 mg/day in the beginning – you can gradually increase it to 3 mg a day.
Keep Exercising Your Brain
You are less likely to develop the disease in the first place if you are an intellectually active person. You should exercise your brain by engaging in different cognitive activities.
Go for Massage
People with Alzheimer's disease are likely to experience moments when they become very agitated and even exhibit disruptive behavior. Massage therapy and therapeutic touch may help manage those situations in a better way.
It may not directly help slow the progress of your disease, but it works great to calm agitated behavior.