Issues with thinking, memory, and decision making that interfere with daily life are referred to as dementia. It’s possible to have dementia-like symptoms with infection and other health conditions. Symptoms may improve with treatment.
“Dementia” is a term doctors use to describe issues with memory and thinking. True dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, is not a reversible condition. You may be able to slow dementia and improve quality of life, but these conditions are progressive and
There are a number of other health issues you may encounter that can have dementia-like symptoms. However, these conditions and their cognitive symptoms may be reversible with the right treatment.
Many other conditions may cause dementia-like symptoms. Once these underlying conditions are treated, the dementia-like symptoms generally resolve.
Here are 11 other common conditions that can mimic dementia symptoms.
You may be familiar with the common symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) — pain when urinating, urgency to urinate, and fever. A UTI may also result in something called UTI delirium, causing symptoms similar to those of dementia.
Delirium is a condition in which a person is confused or disoriented. They may not be aware of their surroundings, seem agitated or anxious, or have another sudden change in behavior.
A doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics to treat a UTI.
When your sleep is disrupted, it can lead to a host of symptoms throughout the day. With obstructive sleep apnea, you may experience cognitive impairment that mimics dementia. Memory issues, attention problems, and issues with executive function are other possibilities.
Treatment for sleep apnea involves continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) during sleep, changing sleep positions, and occasionally surgery.
Depression is a mood disorder marked by persistent sadness and anxiety. A person with depression may also have cognitive symptoms, like confusion, difficulty concentrating, or trouble making decisions.
Older adults are at a
Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a condition in which a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) puts pressure on the brain. It’s more common in people over age
Treatment involves surgery to place a shunt that can drain the excess CSF.
Hormones produced by the thyroid are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters — like serotonin and dopamine — in the body. When this process is affected by either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, a person may experience issues with mood or thinking.
Symptoms you may associate with Lyme disease include a bullseye rash, muscle aches, and headaches. In
Early diagnosis is key to reversal, as some people may be more prone to develop more permanent health issues. One
Cognitive issues are also associated with cancer. The
Low levels of vitamin B12 in the body can lead to things like anemia, numbness, and vertigo. It can also lead to dementia-like cognitive and memory issues. In one
B12 levels tend to decline as a person ages. This puts older people at a
When the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, a person may experience confusion, trouble concentrating, or other cognitive symptoms. For example, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at a
Treatment depends on the specific disease a person has.
Having chronic kidney disease also puts people at a higher risk of cognitive issues. When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, there may be a buildup of uremic toxins in the body. Specifically, researchers say a toxin called indoxyl sulfate may lead to memory problems, language issues, and other dementia-like symptoms.
Treatment involves dialysis to remove toxins from the blood.
How hydrated you are may make a difference as well. Even people with just mild dehydration may feel the effects of it on the brain. Dehydration, especially in older people, has been linked to mortality, poor health outcomes, and cognitive issues. However, dehydration affects children and younger adults as well.
Can dementia be prevented?
You may prevent or even reverse dementia in cases in which cognitive symptoms are secondary to a treatable health condition. Researchers suggest that for progressive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, there is no proven prevention method.
How long does it take for dementia symptoms to reverse once one of these conditions is treated?
Recovery time will depend on the underlying cause, how long you have had symptoms, and what treatments you use.
How is true dementia diagnosed?
Can taking medications cause dementia?
Yes. Taking certain medications or several that have interactions may also cause symptoms similar to dementia, such as confusion and forgetfulness. Symptoms can improve once medications are changed or stopped.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you experience sudden changes in your behavior, thinking, or memory. There are numerous health conditions that can lead to such changes, and it’s important to rule out Alzheimer’s and other progressive diseases. However, dementia that is secondary to certain health issues can be reversed with appropriate treatment.