Alzheimer's Disease makes up 65% of all dementias, but there are many other diseases that cause dementia which can mistakenly be diagnosed as Alzheimer's. Therefore, a thorough evaluation by a dementia specialist is important to assure an accurate diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. Here are the most common diseases that have been misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's:
1. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD): A rare, fatal brain disease caused by infection. Symptoms: failing memory, changes in behavior and lack of muscle coordination. 90% of patients die within 1 year.
2. Multi-infarct Dementia (MID): Also known as vascular dementia. Results from brain damage caused by multiple strokes (infarcts). Symptoms: disorientation, confusion, and behavioral changes.
3. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH): A rare disease caused by an obstruction in the flow of spinal fluid. Symptoms: difficulty in walking, memory loss, and incontinence.
4. Picks Disease/Frontotemporal Dementia: a rare brain disease, with personality changes, a decline in function, poor judgment, and disorientation that may precede memory loss. Closely resembles Alzheimer's disease.
5. Parkinson's Disease: Affects control of muscle activity, resulting in tremors, stiffness and speech impediment. In late stages, dementia can occur. Drugs can improve steadiness and control.
6. Lewy Body Disease: Dementia symptoms are initially present, followed by the abnormal movement associated with Parkinson's.
7. Huntington's Disease: A hereditary disorder characterized by irregular movements of the limbs and facial muscles, a decline in thinking ability and personality changes.
8. Depression: A psychiatric condition in which many severely depressed persons also display symptoms of memory loss. Depression can often be reversed with treatment.
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