According to abbreviationfinder.org, brain atrophy refers to the progressive loss of brain mass and neuronal connections in the brain. Causes can be a number of diseases. Those affected suffer from limitations in their mental and/or motor skills.
What is brain atrophy?
Brain atrophy is a common side effect of several neurological disorders. Both the entire brain and individual parts can be affected by the decline in cells. The effects of the disorder are highly dependent on which parts of the brain are affected.
Common symptoms include dementia, seizures, loss of motor skills, difficulty speaking, reading, or general understanding. Dementia is characterized by memory loss and an inability to perform everyday tasks. The intensity can vary and increase as the disease progresses.
The causes of brain atrophy are various diseases, accidents or infections of the brain. For example, atrophy can occur after a stroke or severe brain trauma caused by a traffic accident, for example.
A variety of genetic or developmental disorders can also cause brain atrophy. These include Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy (group of neuronal diseases affecting movement, balance and posture), dementia, chorea disease (genetic degenerative brain disease), leukodystrophy (genetic metabolic disease), multiple sclerosis, Pik’s disease (neurodegenerative disease of old age).
AIDS, meningitis, and syphilis can also lead to brain atrophy. Risk factors include brain injury, old age, family history of neuronal or autoimmune diseases, and head injury.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Brain atrophy can produce a variety of symptoms and symptoms, depending on its cause. In general, seizures, hallucinations, and other disturbances in consciousness occur with atrophy. Speech disorders, so-called aphasias, can accompany this. These aphasias increase in intensity over the course of the disease and are expressed, for example, by swallowing words or a very slurred pronunciation.
Sensory aphasia becomes noticeable when the affected person is no longer able to recognize objects and people. Epileptic seizures also occur in most patients. The affected person then experiences repeated severe convulsions, loses consciousness, or performs unusual movements.
Persistent disorientation is also typical. A possible long-term consequence of brain atrophy is dementia. Over time, patients lose the ability to learn and understand, and complex actions such as organizing and planning are no longer possible. As brain atrophy progresses, cognitive performance continues to decline.
This often results in psychological complaints such as mood swings or depression. Delusional thoughts and permanent changes in personality are also part of the clinical picture of brain atrophy. In severe cases, the disease is fatal.
Diagnosis & History
It is not uncommon for those affected to notice a change in their behavior or personality, they are disoriented and have difficulty thinking. Dizziness or blurred vision can also be early symptoms.
At the latest when there is a partial loss of consciousness or when your own well-being and that of others is at risk, you should intervene. When the listed symptoms appear, especially in connection with the mentioned diseases, there are a number of diagnostic methods that can be used to determine cerebral atrophy.
These include computed tomography, which takes a variety of detailed photographs of the brain from different angles; Magnetic resonance tomography, also known as nuclear spin tomography, here sectional images of the tissue are produced for analysis; The similarly proceeding positron emission tomography or single photon emission computed tomography.
Brain atrophy causes a drastic reduction in brain mass. In most cases, this reduction leads to severe limitations in the patient’s physical and psychological abilities. This reduction is still irreversible and cannot be reversed, so that the person concerned usually has to suffer from the symptoms of brain atrophy for the rest of his life.
This leads to paralysis of various body regions and loss of function. Speech disorders or memory disorders also occur and, in most cases, the patient is no longer able to think and act clearly. The number of brain cells drops drastically, resulting in a reduction in intelligence and thus retardation. Mental health problems and personality disorders are not uncommon.
Most patients also suffer from mood swings. Brain atrophy also leads to dizziness and blurred vision, with no improvement with corrective lenses. Brain atrophy cannot be treated. Although their course can be limited, it is not possible to reverse the symptoms. In most cases, the patient is then dependent on the help of other people in everyday life.
When should you go to the doctor?
People who suffer from seizures should consult a doctor to determine the cause. If hallucinations, confusion or false sensory perceptions occur, consult a doctor. A medical examination is necessary as soon as behavioral problems and personality changes become apparent. If the person concerned shows a depressive mood or is aggressive, the observations should be discussed with a doctor. If you are feeling euphoric or crying for no reason, there is cause for concern.
A doctor’s visit is necessary to determine the cause. Abnormalities in memory activity, memory gaps, impaired memory, or obviously false memories should be examined more closely. In the event of disorientation or inability to cope with everyday life, the person concerned needs medical help. If performance is reduced or the social skills learned cannot be applied, a doctor should be consulted.
A loss of the ability to speak, an apathetic behavior or a feeling of alienation, a doctor should be consulted. Since cerebral atrophy can develop into a fatal course in severe cases, a doctor’s visit should be initiated as soon as possible if the person concerned behaves unusually. Incomprehensible withdrawal behavior or sudden exuberant behavior indicate a disease that continues to progress without treatment. In the event of unexplained motor problems, unsteady gait or seizures, a doctor should be consulted.
Treatment & Therapy
There is currently no cure for brain atrophy. The loss of brain cells is irreversible. Only the numerous symptoms of the disease can be treated. The frequently occurring dementia can be treated with drugs that change the chemical structure of the neuronal processes and mitigate the consequences.
New studies have shown initial success in the high-dose clinical administration of vitamin B complexes. Physiotherapy improves the physical ability to perform daily tasks. Psychological counseling can also be considered.
The basic therapy to stop the progression of brain atrophy is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes a healthy and balanced diet with rich vegetables and fruit, regular physical training and mental activities such as reading, chess or memory sports. Proper nutrition is very important here. Studies have shown that people who eat fish at least once a week have a 60 percent reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Fish contains the prophylactic omega 3 fatty acids.
Folic acid, which is contained in spinach, many types of cabbage, tomatoes, asparagus, whole grain rye, yeast, wheat germ, liver and egg yolk, for example, is also a health factor. Lecithin, found in corn, soy, seeds and legumes, is said to have positive effects on memory. Alternative therapies can also help those affected to cope with their illness and to improve their physical and mental well-being. Methods such as acupuncture, massage or yoga should be mentioned here.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of brain atrophy is unfavorable, since this disorder involves irreparable damage to brain tissue. Despite numerous therapeutic approaches, functional disorders that have occurred can no longer be completely corrected. At best, the further course of the present disease can be positively influenced. This depends on the existing underlying disease and the age of the patient. In addition, the detailed prospect of the further course must be individually assessed after the overall diagnosis has been made.
In severe cases, the patient suffers from an illness in which the state of health deteriorates immensely within a short period of time. In addition, the patient is threatened with premature death due to the damage and consequential damage. In the case of a comparatively less serious underlying disease such as multiple sclerosis, the progression of the disease can be slowed down thanks to modern medical possibilities with comprehensive, early and good treatment. There are also various options for treating the other symptoms of the disease quickly and effectively. This has a positive influence on the general state of health, as it significantly improves the patient’s quality of life overall.
In the case of brain atrophy, doctors try to prolong the life of the affected person with the appropriate treatment methods and at the same time try to stabilize their well-being to the best of their ability. A cure or recovery is not possible according to the current scientific knowledge.
There is no panacea against a genetic predisposition to diseases that occur in the context of brain atrophy. However, a healthy lifestyle prevents diseases such as Alzheimer’s, where treatment and prophylaxis overlap. Regular exercise, an active everyday life and mental fitness are the be-all and end-all. High blood pressure should be treated early, as should obesity. These factors can become breeding grounds for cerebral atrophy in old age, as they lead to promoting diseases.
In the case of brain atrophy, the person affected usually has very few or even no measures and direct options for aftercare. Therefore, the priority in this disease is the early detection and treatment of this disease, so that there are no further compilations and complaints and so that the complaints do not continue to worsen. Self-healing cannot occur in the case of brain atrophy.
Brain atrophy is usually treated with medication. In any case, it is important to ensure that the dosage is correct and that it is taken regularly. All doctor’s instructions must also be followed. If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, always consult a doctor first. Care and support from family or friends often have a positive effect on the course of this disease.
Psychological counseling can also be useful. In many cases, a change in diet is necessary, and a doctor can also draw up a nutrition plan. In general, a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet always has a positive effect on the further course of the disease. The life expectancy of the person affected may also be reduced as a result of the brain atrophy.
You can do that yourself
Depending on the causative disease, medical therapy for brain atrophy can be supported by various self-help measures.
If the symptoms are caused by a stroke, treatment focuses on restoring neurological and mental abilities. This can be supported, for example, by exercise, mental games and generally by an active lifestyle that is physically and mentally demanding. Also as a result of craniocerebral trauma, those affected must slowly find their way back to life through exercises and the support of relatives.
If the brain atrophy occurs as a result of multiple sclerosis or epilepsy, these diseases must be treated first. The brain atrophy itself can at least be slowed down by treating the underlying disease. Drug therapy is necessary in any case. If the brain atrophy is due to alcohol and drug abuse, withdrawal must be carried out immediately. Accompanying this, physiotherapeutic and psychotherapeutic measures are to be taken.
Although damage that has already occurred due to cerebral atrophy cannot be completely repaired, appropriate lifestyle changes enable those affected to lead a relatively symptom-free life. Close monitoring by the doctor is always necessary when brain atrophy is diagnosed.