Dementia isn’t a specific disease, but a general term given to symptoms, like loss of memory and decline in other mental abilities that are so severe you’re unable to do normal activities in your daily life.

ElderlyManIt can also affect a number of other cognitive functions, including reasoning, personality, mood and behavior. Memory loss alone is typically not enough to diagnose dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia we see at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center; however, there are many different types.

It’s important to identify the cause of dementia to figure out a treatment plan. Our memory disorder experts are constantly learning new ways to treat these conditions and create a personalized treatment plan for you.

What are the types of dementia?

Generally, dementia is divided into three groups: primary, secondary and reversible.

Primary means dementia is the main illness in the disease or condition. Secondary means the dementia is due to another condition. Reversible means the dementia has a cause that can be reversed.

Primary dementia:

Alzheimer’s disease – This is the most common type of dementia.

Vascular dementia, or stroke – Following Alzheimer’s disease, this is the second most common type. When you’ve had multiple strokes, parts of your brain are destroyed, and you can become neurologically impaired.

Dementia with Lewy bodies – Lewy bodies are collections of abnormal proteins that accumulate in the brain. When this happens, you can experience stiffness and trouble with gait, memory loss and visual processing difficulties, including hallucinations.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) – The disorders are characterized by early personality changes and impairments in decision-making, problem-solving and using good judgment. Some people have prominent difficulties in language skills; however, memory impairments are not as prominent as in Alzheimer’s disease.

Mixed dementia – This occurs when two types of dementia are present, most commonly Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Secondary dementia

Here are some diseases and conditions responsible for secondary dementia:

Reversible dementia

Most often there isn’t a cure for dementia and medication can only slow the progression. However, there are a few different types of dementia that can be reversed when treated.

These types of dementia include:

  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus – In this condition, cerebrospinal fluid made in the brain is unable to drain properly and builds up, causing problems. Early diagnosis can lead to a neurosurgical shunting procedure to reverse symptoms. 
  • Infection-related dementia – Infections like bacterial meningitis or herpes encephalitis and illnesses like AIDS and Lyme disease can cause dementia.
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Side effects of medications and other toxins – Prescribed medications can cause dementia as can alcohol dependence.
  • Tumors and hematomas

No matter what’s causing your dementia, our cognitive experts will work to identify the type, and then make the best possible treatment plan for you and your family.

Learn more about dementia

Learn more about dementia

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