To diagnose Alzheimer's disease, doctors perform tests to assess a patient's memory impairment and other thinking skills, analyze their functional abilities, and identify behavioural changes. In addition, a number of tests are performed to find other possible causes of the patient's impairment.
Alzheimer's disease can be diagnosed in several different ways.Often, Alzheimer's is diagnosed by doctors’ examinations.It is important to get an accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia. Proper diagnosis is an important first step to achieving appropriate treatment, care, family education, and plans for the future.
Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease
Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include:
ü Memory disorders such as difficulty remembering events
ü Difficulty concentrating, planning, or solving problems
ü Problems completing daily tasks at home or at work, such as writing or using utensils
ü Confusion over time or place
ü Visual or spatial difficulties such as misunderstanding distance, loss, or misplacement while driving
ü Problems in finding words or language problems such as reduced vocabulary in speech or writing
ü Use weak judgment in decisions
ü Staying away from work or social events
ü Mood changes such as depression or other behavioural and personality changes
Assessment of memory problems and other symptoms
ü To assess and identify symptoms, the doctor may want to answer questions or perform tasks related to cognitive skills such as memory, thinking, problem solving speech use, and related skills.
ü Mental condition test. Doctors can perform mental condition tests to test thinking (cognitive) and memory skills. Doctors use the scores on these tests to assess your degree of cognitive decline.
ü Neuropsychological tests. It can be assessed by a specialist trained in brain perception and mental health conditions (neuropsychologist). Assessment can include extensive tests to assess your memory and thinking (cognitive) skills.
ü These tests help doctors determine if you have Alzheimer's and if you can safely perform daily tasks, such as taking medication as planned. . These tests can also assess if depression is causing your symptoms.
Interview with friends and family
Doctors can ask family members or loved ones questions about the patient and their behavior.
Brain imaging tests
Alzheimer's disease is caused by progressive loss (degeneration) of brain cells.
This degeneration can manifest itself in various ways in brain scans.
However, these scans alone are not enough to make a diagnosis. Scans are not used to diagnose the condition, because doctors usually can differentiate age-related changes in the brain and which is normal or abnormal.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
ü MRI uses powerful radio waves and magnets to create a detailed view of your brain.
ü Computed tomography (CT). Tomography uses X-rays to get cross-sectional images of your brain.
ü Positron emission tomography (PET). PET imaging uses a radioactive substance known as a tracker to detect substances in the body. There are different types of PET imaging. The most commonly used PET imaging is fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). This scan can identify areas of the brain where glucose metabolism is reduced. The pattern of metabolic changes can distinguish different types of degenerative brain diseases.
ü Recently, PET scans have been developed to detect groups of amyloid proteins (plaques) or tau (neurofibrillary tangles) associated with Alzheimer's dementia. These types of PET scans are commonly used in research settings.