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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Alzheimer's Disease - Exams and Tests

Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed after other conditions are ruled out. Your doctor will use a variety of tests to do this.

It usually is helpful to have a family member or someone in close contact with the person present at the appointment. A family member may be able to provide the best information about how a person's day-to-day functioning, memory, and personality have changed.

Recommended Related to Alzheimer's

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Symptoms

The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease often come on slowly. It might start when someone has trouble recalling things that just happened or putting thoughts into words. But over time, the problems get worse. People in the later stages of the disease usually can’t live alone or care for themselves. There are three main phases of Alzheimer's: mild, moderate, and severe. Each stage has its own set of symptoms.

Read the Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Symptoms article > >

Initial tests

The doctor will use a medical history and physical exam to help find out if a physical problem may be causing the person's symptoms. Sometimes another problem can cause the same symptoms as Alzheimer's.

The person will also have a functional status exam and a mental health assessment. During these exams, he or she will be asked to perform simple tasks.

Lab tests

Lab tests may be done to rule out other possible causes of a person's symptoms, such as levels of certain minerals or chemicals in the blood, liver disease, abnormal thyroid levels, or nutritional problems, such as folate or vitamin B12 deficiencies. Treatment for these conditions may slow or reverse mental decline.

Blood tests that may be done include:

Imaging and other tests

Other tests include:

In some cases, examining the brain after death is done if the family wants to confirm that the person had Alzheimer's disease.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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