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Dementia - Symptoms

Symptoms of dementia vary depending on the cause and the area of the brain camera.gif that is affected. Symptoms include:

  • Memory loss. This is usually the earliest and most noticeable symptom.
  • Trouble recalling recent events or recognizing people and places.
  • Trouble finding the right words.
  • Problems planning and carrying out tasks, such as balancing a checkbook, following a recipe, or writing a letter.
  • Trouble exercising judgment, such as knowing what to do in an emergency.
  • Trouble controlling moods or behaviors. Depression is common, and agitation or aggression may occur.
  • Not keeping up personal care such as grooming or bathing.

Some types of dementia cause particular symptoms:

  • People who have dementia with Lewy bodies often have highly detailed visual hallucinations. And they may fall frequently.
  • The first symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may be personality changes or unusual behavior. People with this condition may not express any caring for others, or they may say rude things, expose themselves, or make sexually explicit comments.

Symptoms of dementia that come on suddenly suggest vascular dementia or possibly delirium, which is short-term confusion caused by a new or worsening illness.

It is important to know that memory loss can be caused by conditions other than dementia, such as depression, and that those conditions can be treated. Also, occasional trouble with memory (such as briefly forgetting someone's name) can be a normal part of aging. But if you are worried about memory loss or if a loved one has memory loss that is getting worse, see your doctor.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 27, 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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