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Reversible Dementia

What is Reversible Dementia?

Current research shows that there are more than 50 conditions (accounting for 20% of reported “dementia” cases) which mimic or cause symptoms of “dementia” but are in fact not dementia. The term “reversible dementia” is used to describe theses cases.

If 20% of people with progressive memory complaints, or other symptoms similar to dementia, are suffering from something other than dementia this means some patients do not receive an objective evaluation to ensure an accurate diagnosis of dementia when diagnosed.

What Conditions or Diseases Mimic Dementia?

While there are over 50 conditions that mimic or cause symptoms similar to dementia, the majority of conditions and diseases that are the most often confused with dementia are:

  • Vascular diseases
  • Medication Interactions
  • Alcohol-related dementia
  • Trauma (subdural hematoma)
  • Encephalitis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Depression
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Infections (syphilis, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, opportunistic infections)

Ruling out Reversible Dementia

To properly diagnose dementia and to rule out possible cases of “reversible dementia” a thorough evaluation of the patient, a discussion with family members and some, if not all, of the tests below may be conducted:

  • Testing to Evaluate Mental State
    • The Mini-Metal State Examination
    • Blessed Information Memory Concentration
    • Blessed Orientation Memory Concentration
    • Short Test of Mental Status
    • Functional activity Questionnaire
  • Laboratory Testing
    • Thyroid-stimulating hormones
    • Vitamin B-12 levels
    • Complete Blood Cell Count
    • Serum Electrolytes
    • Serum Calcium
    • Serum Glucose
  • Imaging Studies
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
    • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
    • Noncontrast Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Neuropsychological Testing for screening purposes

Confirming a Diagnosis of Dementia

If a diagnosis of dementia has already been made check with your doctor to ensure that any disease or condition that is known mimic dementia has been ruled out. Many dementia like conditions can be reversed if they are treated before permanent damage occurs. Thus getting the right diagnosis and reporting any early signs to your doctor are important to ensure the proper treatment.