How Do You Treat the Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

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Answered by: Kenyotta, An Expert in the Cell Phones - General Category
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disease that affects up to 5.1 million people in the United States. The disease is irreversible. One of the most commonly experienced symptom of the disease is dementia. Dementia can cause a loss of cognitive and speaking skills which can make life difficult for sufferers of the disease. Although Alzheimer's has been seen in people as young as their 20s, the disease primarily strikes those who are 60 years of age and older.

There is no cure-all for the disease. In fact, there is no cure for the disease at all. Due to the disease's progressive and complex nature, treatment options primarily focus on managing the symptoms. Currently, there are four medications that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the disease. Which medication a person is prescribed depends on the severity of the disease.

Donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine are available for people suffering from mild to modern Alzheimer's disease. These drugs can help slow the progression of the disease and help maintain cognitive skills such as memory and thinking. The drugs cannot improve cognitive skills or reverse the effects of the disease. The drugs are only effective for up to a few years. Depending on the severity of the disease, the drugs may be only effective for a few months.

Memantine is approved to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. The drug functions in much the same manner as the other drugs for the disease. The use of memantine can improve minimal cognitive and speaking skills. The drug has allowed Alzheimer's suffers to function on a daily basis performing minimal tasks. The drug does not slow the progression of the disease and is not considered a cure.

Other symptoms of Alzheimer's including sleeplessness, anger and depression may be treated with drugs as well. The treatment of these symptoms not only provides relief for the person with the disease, but also caretakers. Treatment options for these symptoms range from therapy to medications such as antidepressants. A physician will make a determination as to the best course of treatment for a patient based on medical history and potential effectiveness.

Some families are turning to holistic therapy to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Holistic approaches range from animal therapy to the use of herbs and supplements. Herbs such as Ginkgo biloba are thought to increase brain functioning in Alzheimer's patients. The use of herbs and supplements is not without concerns. There is very little scientific research on the effectiveness of supplements and what interaction, if any, they have with other medications.

Whether a family opts for a more traditional approach to treating the symptoms of Alzheimer's or holistic medicine is strictly a personal choice between family members. It is important to involve a medical professional in the discussions concerning treatment. A medical professional can provide a solid opinion on what works and what does not. A professional also has access to a patient's medical history and can help determine the best course of treatment.

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