Dementia is an umbrella term for memory loss, but there are actually many different types of dementia. For example, it can be vascular dementia or frontotemporal dementia. But, dementia can also be reversible or irreversible.
Reversible dementia refers to types of dementia that can be partially or completely cured through treatment and proper management by targeting the underlying cause. Irreversible dementia is brought on by an incurable cause, so as it progresses the patient’s ability to care for themselves becomes largely diminished.
Irreversible Dementia Causes
Irreversible dementia is often caused by damage to the brain that is irreversible. As changes occur, memory loss becomes more prevalent. In these cases, dementia cannot be reversed as the changes contributing to dementia have already occurred. Treatment for these contributing conditions will not improve memory.
In some of these conditions, dementia may appear early on – or it won’t appear until the disease has progressed further. Causes of irreversible dementia include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Lewy body dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
- Vascular dementia
- Huntington’s disease
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Some cases of multiple sclerosis (MS) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Multiple-system atrophy
- Infections such as a late-stage syphilis
Reversible dementia is a type of dementia where it is often a side effect or a symptom of the underlying disease. In these cases of dementia, it is possible to improve memory outcomes by treating the underlying condition. Also, it is far less likely that the patient would not be able to care for themselves with reversible dementia, as it is seen in irreversible dementia.
These conditions leading to reversible dementia can be treated, and even cured in some cases, and that would reverse – either partially or completely – the effects of dementia.
Causes for reversible dementia include:
- Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Heavy-metal poisoning, such as lead
- Side effects of medicines or drug interactions
- Some brain tumors
- Normal-pressure hydrocephalus
- Some cases of chronic alcoholism
- Some cases of encephalitis
- Nutritional deficiencies
It is often believed that environmental factors can also play a role in the onset of dementia. Unfortunately, the link between environmental factors and dementia isn’t fully understood. For example, some people may carry a genetic mutation which increases their susceptibility to dementia when triggered by an environmental factor.
Environmental causes of dementia include anoxia, poisoning, and substance abuse.