Silent epidemic: Early onset dementia is on the rise
(NaturalHealth365) It’s a frightening fact: the number of non-elderly diagnosed with dementia is on the rise. Defined as striking people younger than 65, early onset dementia can take form as a range of brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or brain infections.
While devastating at any age, dementia is particularly overwhelming when it strikes those in their 50s, 40s or even 30s, with families, financial obligations and careers in full swing and those around them deeply impacted. Early onset dementia makes it especially difficult for those affected to cope with the knowledge that their productive years and lifespan have been drastically shortened.
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Research reveals dementia is disproportionately affecting the Western World
Researchers conducting studies across 20 developed nations over the course of 11 years discovered that Western countries had experienced the greatest, disproportional increase in the disease affecting people aged 45 to 74. Australian researchers found that it is likely 1 out of every 750 Australians are affected by early onset dementia.
Scientific findings suggest the prevalence of the disease can be decreased with regular exercise, cessation of smoking and drinking only in moderation. In addition, science suggests eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables could help to minimize the disease.
Environmental factors are to blame for epidemic rise in brain disorders
Researchers, who have warned of this “silent epidemic,” believe environmental factors are likely to blame in this trend toward earlier development of the disease. While no one factor was identified as the primary culprit, toxic chemical pollution from vehicles, jets and other industry sources are thought to play a major role.
The environmental changes caused by increases in the amount of pollution from petro-chemicals, as well as the increase in pesticides, GMOs and electromagnetic fields, clearly coincides with the timeline for changes seen in earlier onset of dementia. Researchers say the age of onset began to erode over the past 20 years.
Scientists have also discovered that in a few hundred families worldwide, rare genes seem to cause development of symptoms for those in their 30s, 40s and 50s. This form of the disease is known as “familial Alzheimer’s disease,” and typically affects several family members across multiple generations. However, most cases of early onset dementia are not linked to genetic causes.
Why is early onset dementia difficult to diagnose?
Only a couple of decades ago, concerns over early onset dementia focused on patients in their early 60s. Today, the age affected by the early onset version of this disease has shifted to patients in their 40s and 50s – and sometimes even younger. An estimated 200,000 people are living with early onset dementia in the U.S. alone.
One of the difficulties that has arisen with this downward shifting of age is that younger patients are often misdiagnosed, sometimes repeatedly. This is because healthcare providers typically do not look for Alzheimer’s disease in younger patients, often mistaking symptoms for stress or depression. Patients are also in varying stages of the disease when they first seek a diagnosis and may differ in symptoms, further complicating the process of correctly diagnosing the disease.
The process for diagnosis typically includes a thorough medical exam, as well as cognitive tests, a neurological exam and possibly, brain imaging. A comprehensive medical evaluation with a doctor who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease is vital. It is helpful to your provider if you write down your symptoms of memory loss or cognitive difficulties.
While there is no conventional treatment to reverse dementia, early diagnosis and treatment is available – if you get the right healthcare provider to help. Bottom line: don’t ignore the signs of poor brain health. The sooner you begin making lifestyle changes the better.
It is possible to prevent and REVERSE dementia – naturally. Register today for the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Summit and discover how to protect your brain health – before it’s too late.
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