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Understanding
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
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Understanding
BRAIN INJURY
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Understanding
EPILEPSY
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Understanding
MIGRAINE HEADACHE
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Understanding
PARKINSON'S DISEASE
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Understanding
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
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Understanding
SLEEP DISODERS
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Understanding
STROKE
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Understanding
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

WHAT IS ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE?
Alzheimer's disease is a disorder that attacks brain tissue. Its main symptom is steadily increasing memory loss. Problems with vision, language, and emotional control are also common. These abilities may decline over five to 20 years. People with Alzheimer's disease will require constant care at some point.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms usually begin with loss of recent memories. For example, you may unknowingly repeat stories in the same conversation. Or you may forget certain events. Other symptoms include:

  • Trouble learning new information
  • Gradually increasing confusion and disorientation
  • Trouble speaking in conversations
  • Personality and behavioral changes
  • Misplacing objects or becoming lost in familiar neighborhoods
  • Problems with judgment and common sense

Over time, people with Alzheimer's forget how to perform even the simplest tasks. It may be harder to recognize faces and use common objects. Even the names of children or grandchildren are easily forgotten. Personality changes can include:

  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Distrust of caregivers or family members

It is important to see a doctor when you suspect Alzheimer's disease symptoms. Only a doctor can diagnose your condition correctly.

WHAT CAUSES ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE?
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is unknown. What is known is that a brain affected with Alzheimer's disease is filled with deposits of a waxy substance called amyloid or plaque. Nerve cell connections in the brain are reduced, causing a loss of short-term memory. Other intellectual and physical functions are affected in time.

Some of these changes happen in normal aging. Far more change is found in people with Alzheimer's disease. Inherited or genetic factors and aging seem to play important roles.

HOW IS ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE DIAGNOSED?
There is no simple test to diagnose Alzheimer's disease. When Alzheimer's disease is suspected, it is important to have a complete medical and neurological evaluation. An evaluation may include:

  • A complete health history and physical examination
  • Tests that evaluate thinking skills and memory
  • Tests of blood and urine
  • Brain imaging scans

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS?
There is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease. There are medications that may help slow down or reduce symptoms.

These drugs block a brain chemical that breaks down acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a key substance needed for brain cells to function properly. Some drugs may also reduce behavioral changes caused by the disorder.

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PARTNERING WITH YOUR DOCTOR

A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system. You need your doctor to know all about your symptoms and medical history. Then he or she can be more effective in diagnosing and treating your disorder. Likewise, you need to get answers to your questions. Diagnosing and managing your neurological disorder is a partnership between you and your neurologist.

Questions to ask your neurologist

  • What type of disorder do I have?
  • How will this disorder affect my health?
  • What is the treatment and what will it do?
  • How will this disorder affect my daily Iife and activities?

Understanding your disorder and treatment may make it easier to live with the effects of Alzheimer's disease.

For more information or make an appointment, please contact:

Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D.
Neurology Center for Adults & Children

Tel: 310-477-7201
info@neurologycenter.org

Understanding
BRAIN INJURY

WHAT IS BRAIN INJURY?
Each year in the United States, about 1.5 million people experience a brain injury. A blow or jolt to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury. You do not have to hit your head on an object to injure the brain. Sudden movement of the brain in the head, such as a whiplash injury due to a car accident, can cause a brain injury.

Brain injury is a major cause of death and disability. More US children die of brain injury than any other cause.

WHAT CAUSES BRAIN INJURY?
Half of all brain injuries are due to transportation-related accidents. About 20 percent of brain injuries are due to violence. This includes firearm use and child abuse. For people age 75 and older, brain injuries are most often caused by falls.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms can be mild to severe. Some show up right away. Others may appear several days or weeks after the injury. Symptoms include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Seizures

HOW IS BRAIN INJURY DIAGNOSED?
Immediate emergency medical treatment is crucial. It is helpful to have a neurologist involved early in the diagnosis and treatment. It is even more vital if symptoms continue for more than a few days or weeks.

After an injury, emergency treatment is needed to control bleeding in and around the brain, control the amount of pressure in the brain, and make sure breathing, blood pressure, and other systems are stable. Then doctors can assess the severity of the brain injury. They check the person's level of consciousness and neurological functioning. Brain imaging tests may be used to help in the diagnosis.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS?
The treatment and recovery process is different for each person. No two brain injuries are alike.

Emergency treatment begins at the time of the accident or incident. Medical personnel try to stabilize the person. About half of all severely injured people may need surgery. The surgery may be to remove or repair bleeding in or around the brain or to drain fluid from the brain.

After emergency treatment, people may be in a hospital intensive care unit. Once they are stable, they may move to a regular bed in the hospital. Some people will need further help after leaving the hospital. Other people whose injuries do not require hospitalization may also need help recovering. Options for rehabilitation can include:

  • Outpatient therapy
  • Home health services
  • Independent living programs

The goal of rehabilitation is to help people regain the highest possible level of independent functioning. Rehabilitation should be tailored to each person. It should be based on the individual's strengths and capacities.

>> back to top

PARTNERING WITH YOUR DOCTOR

A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system. You need your doctor to know all about your symptoms and medical history. Then he or she can be more effective in diagnosing and treating your disorder. Likewise, you need to get answers to your questions. Diagnosing and managing your neurological disorder is a partnership between you and your neurologist.

Questions to ask your neurologist

  • What type of disorder do I have?
  • How will this disorder affect my health?
  • What is the treatment and what will it do?
  • How will this disorder affect my daily Iife and activities?

Understanding your disorder and treatment may make it easier to live with brain injury.

For more information or make an appointment, please contact:

Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D.
Neurology Center for Adults & Children

Tel: 310-477-7201
info@neurologycenter.org

Resources from
American Academy of Neurology
11600 Wilshire Blvd, Ste. 420, West Los Angeles, CA 90025
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