Can Dementia Be Reversed?

Whether or not dementia can be reversed depends on the cause of the dementia. Some types of dementia that cannot be reversed can be slowed down if doctors can catch them early enough in the course of the disease.

In many cases, dementia can be reversed when an underlying syndrome that is treatable causes it. Dementia caused by hormonal imbalances of the thyroid, parathyroid, or other endocrine system diseases can be cured when the hormonal imbalance is corrected through medication. The same goes for dementia caused by vitamin imbalances or deficiencies – B vitamins are especially important for brain functioning, and pernicious anemia – a lack of vitamin B12 absorption – can cause dementia. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is another correctable root cause of dementia.

Treating the depression can treat dementia that is present with an accompanying mental illness, like severe depression. Depression can, of course, be difficult to treat, and so the dementia by association also can be difficult to address in this instance.

Some treatable dementia is actually even preventable. Dementia brought on by drug and/or alcohol abuse can clearly be prevented through personal choice. Head injuries that lead to dementia can be made less likely by wearing a helmet when cycling and wearing seat belts while in a car.

Not all kinds of dementia are reversible, however. Alzheimer’s disease is not curable and damage to the brain cannot be reversed. With early diagnosis, some patients with Alzheimer’s disease may be able to slow the progression of their symptoms with the help of certain medications, or a combination of medications. Conflicting evidence exits suggesting dietary supplements, like Ginkgo Biloba or vitamin E, put off the march of the disease, however, doctors are skeptical.

Vascular dementia caused by a series of mini stokes is not reversible, either. The strokes that cause vascular dementia usually are not detectable at first, even though each stroke is causing damage to brain cells. By the time that symptoms begin to show, it means that the damage has accumulated in the brain. Doctors cannot correct any of the damage caused by the strokes, and the brain cannot heal itself from this kind of damage.

Dementia with Lewy bodies is not possible to treat. The course the disease takes mirrors that of Alzheimer’s disease and also shared some traits with Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Though dementia with Lewy bodies cannot be cured, the progression of the disease can be slowed down in some patients when they are treated with Alzheimer’s medications, Parkinson’s medications, or a combination of the two.

Pick’s disease, also known as frontal temporal lobe dementia, is similarly untreatable. Pick’s disease affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for behavior and emotion. The cause is unknown, but once the damage is present in the brain, it cannot be reversed.

The ability to treat some forms of dementia highlights the importance of patients seeing a doctor soon after the appearance of their symptoms and going to a doctor’s appointment prepared with all of the relevant information to their medical history. It is also important for a doctor to know all prescription and over the counter medications a patient is taking to rule in or out any potential drug based cause for the dementia. Even untreatable dementia can be managed for a period of time if caught early, so there are options available to all of those who are concerned about their memory loss.