Posted on 27 Comments

Anemia and Eating Ice

person-holding-clear-drinking-glass-with-yellow-liquid-4686941
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Do you have a constant need to chomp on ice chips? Crunching and munching at the detriment of your pearly whites — this behavior is known as pagophagia a form of pica.

Pagophagia — craving and eating ice.

Pica — is the compulsive urge to eat non-nutritive substances. Pica eating is not a recent phenomena, it has been observed for centuries. Pregnant women and preadolescents are a group with the highest risk of pica, though many persons indulge in Pica. Ice, soil, paper, rubber bands are some examples of non-nutritive items eaten in pica. It is also thought that pica has an association in the disorders in mentation.

Woman Eating Dirt
Photo credit–Study.com

This non-nutritive eating is often associated with anemia.

Pagophagia

Pagophagia —  the practice of eating ice is also a type of Pica eating. Pagophagia is a common form of pica associated with iron deficiency. You may aware that the constant chewing on ice will damage your teeth yet you are powerless to cease the destructive behavior. We may view the desire for chewing ice as a pleasurable act, which may be natures way of alerting us of a deficit.

Per the National Library of Medicine approximately one third of the world’s populace suffers with anemia. Some of the symptoms of iron deficiency are manifested in adults as; restless legs syndrome and pica eating. In adolescents the symptoms are; decreased learning and behavioral anomalies. In neonates iron deficiency show up as; arrested growth and development.

sliced-lemon-on-ice-water-90763
Image credit: Pixabay

How is it diagnosed?

Pica eating is usually diagnosed on the admission of patients on consuming non-nutritive items such as paper, soil, paint chips, hair, rubber bands and ice for a period greater than one month.

Diagnosis is also based on tests for anemia, intestinal blockages, parasitic infections and toxic side effects of things ingested, e.g., lead poisoning.

Most persons are not cognizant that consuming a lot of ice everyday is a form of pica. Many patients assume that it’s just a habit and medical care practitioners do not always make a connection between the behaviors and pica or a mental health issue. Practitioners need to be cognizant in investigating the etiology of the blood loss that results in the anemia.

Pica eating is not diagnosed in children under two years of age as this is part of their normal developmental testing and learning their environment.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

How is it treated?

Once diagnosed patients are usually treated for the iron deficiency. Studies have shown a resolution for the pica/pagophagia once the anemia has resolved. Iron supplementation is given intravenously, orally (liquid, pills or capsules) and must be supplemented with vitamin-c to enable absorption by the cells.

Since pica also has its etiology in some psychological disorders, e.g., obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), stress and developmental disorders  —  cognitive therapy may be required to aid the patient in future management of the disorder.

Final Thoughts

Pagophagia/pica has been a part of the human condition for eons, its etiology and pathophysiology remains a mystery (perhaps due to our bodies instinctive need to exist). The powerful urge to chomp on ice and other non-nutritive substances regularly may be our bodies way of screaming for help. I have personally witnessed pica eating, with many other substances.

Should you become aware you or family members possess any unusual cravings for non-food items, inform them/your primary care provider as an investigation and resolution may go a long way to improving your/their life.

References:

  1. https://study.com/
  2. https://www.nlm.nih.gov
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org
  4. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
  5. https://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com
  6. https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/ipho20/current

 

Posted on 13 Comments

Safe-guard Your Tongue

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

How the effects of everyday habits impacts our health!

Life has many pleasures, some are good for us and some not so much. At every turn we are faced with making many decisions. We are constantly bombarded with what to eat, what to drink and so on. Growing up in a small underdeveloped country I saw firsthand the effects of alcohol abuse.

God has created so much for us to see, eat and enjoy. As with most things in life, in everything we have to practice moderation. Along with the many things we can enjoy there are some that has the propensity to cause us distress if we are not diligent.

When it comes to enjoyment, eating is one of the foremost ways that we enjoy life. We enjoy the many wonderful smells the world have to offer and make every effort to avoid the not so pleasant ones. Taste comes in several flavors, sweet, bitter, sour, salt and umami (savory). There are a few everyday items that can negatively alter or enjoyment and impact our taste buds.

Being overweight

Studies show a link between obesity and having a diminished sense of taste. This seems to encourage the person who is overweight to consume more calories thus the cycle of obesity continues. Obesity according to science is an inflammatory process and impacts the cell turnover of the tongue. The good news is that the process seems to be reversible with weight loss.

2. Smoking kills your taste buds

Photo by Vusal Ibadzade on Unsplash
Cigarette smoke is odious, yellowing our nails and our teeth, it causes gum disease, high blood pressure, strokes etc., and kills your taste buds. Reason being toxic chemicals in cigarettes influences the taste buds to lose their shape and flatten in a process known as vascularization. Vascularization causes your taste buds to become less inefficient at detecting flavors.

3. You nose may be the culprit

Photo by okeykat on Unsplash

Smell and taste go hand-in-hand therefore your taste buds function by detecting flavors via your nose and tongue. In fact, it’s thought that up to ninety (90%) percent of our sense of taste is closely tied with our ability to smell. For this reason when your nose is congested it diminishes the way your food taste. So if you are not suffering from a cold and you’re still experiencing a dull sense of taste you need to have it evaluated ASAP. If your taste buds are not be the problem your sense of smell could be. Aging, neurovascular conditions, Alzheimer’s — diseases of the head and neck as well as many other diseases alters our sense of taste.

4. Too much sugar in your diet

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Experts have always cautioned us on the use of too much sugar. Routine overindulge in sugary foods and drinks. Too much sugar actually dulls the perception of sugar. What that means is that over time you have to consume more and more sugar to get the same pleasure from eating it. Try to reduce your sugar consumption as much as possible.

5. Exposure to harsh chemical cleaners

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

If like me you love a clean home and use/used harsh chemical cleaners that could have negative effects on your ability to smell and taste. Did you know that some household cleaners are quite toxic. Strong cleaners like bleach for example can affect the delicate lining and sensory cells in the nose, especially when cleaning small, unventilated areas, e.g., bathroom. Some exposure will not necessarily cause permanent damage but continuous and prolonged exposure will eventually destroy the cells in the nasal passage and your taste buds.

6. Excessive alcohol intake

Photo by Giovanna Gomes on Unsplash

We all know that too much of any one thing is not good for us. Many people enjoy a glass of wine, beer or the spirits, but excessive intake of alcoholic beverages can affect your sense of taste. One of the ways alcohol damages your taste is by causing numbing effect to the taste buds. Studies have shown that if your taste buds are really sensitive to ‘bitter’ you are less likely to overindulge in alcohol.

Final thoughts:

Life is for living and though there is much to eat, drink and do, we are tasked with taking the responsibility for our health by way of our choices. So take care, eat and drink in moderation while maintaining an awareness of what may cause an unwanted consequences to your health. In safe guarding your most important attribute — your health, you can enjoy all the pleasant taste and smells for a long time to come.

Take care and be well. God bless you all!

References:

  1. https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nidcd.nih.gov%2Fhealth%2Fsmell-disorders
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc
  3. https://worldmedicinefoundation.com

 

 

 

Posted on 51 Comments

Update on How I am Doing

wp-15943191923671316829730.png
I took this picture while at work last Saturday the day I realized I had COVID – looks are deceiving. 

Thank you All for your Prayers and Well Wishes!!!

My friends, I remain in quarantine and I can say that truly God is a good God. Even though I was well aware that I could become infected with COVID, due to the nature of the path I chose,  I thought I was taking all the precautions I could.

I work with two other ladies most frequently and they are both in their sixties and both are cancer survivors. As such whenever we have had to swab and care for a patient “under interest” I have been the one more in contact with the patients as I know these women would be more at risk than myself.

I am not a hero just a human. I have grown to love these women.

Since I have been unwell I have been speaking with both these ladies as they are experiencing symptoms as well. The one lady that I worked my last two shifts with is really feeling poorly even though her COVID test came back negative. She has been having more severe symptoms than myself. She is also in quarantine.

Each day I arise and thank God for Jesus! Yes I am happy. Psalms 23 – Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil….!!!! AMEN.

God is a good God and we shall all make it to the other side, my co-workers and I. I sleep with some healing scriptures playing on my nightstand as I want the healing promises to soak into my spirit even in repose.  (I always do this when I seek God out, I let his word settle in my soul. I will make a post about it one day).

How I feel:

  • Weakness (getting better each day)
  • Shortness of breath with exertion (it is resolving)
  • Headache — my worst symptom (it just hangs around)
  • Inability to concentrate for long periods
  • A heaviness in my head (feeling it as I type this now)
  • Sleeping a lot (the body needs rest to heal)

I never recorded a fever or a cough. 

What I am using for my immune system:

  • Zinc – 15mg
  • Vitamin D -5,000 IU
  • Vitamin C – 1000mg
  • Tumeric, aloe vera, garlic, ginger and celery blended drink (I just chug it down, can’t taste anyway)
  • Rest – as the body dictates
  • Exercise – I keep it moving, even if I just walk around the backyard in the sun.

Some of what breaks my heart:

  1. My boss has the nerve to ask me, “where do you think you got COVID from?” (we have been screening patients prior to surgery, screening and seeing the general public, the doctors see pre-surgery patients as well all day, some of which have been COVID positive and we mingle and share space with those doctors all day!). Is she for real.
  2. We were never given the appropriate protective gear. We wear surgical masks, can you imagine! Surgical masks do not protect from COVID, especially not in a healthcare setting where we are likely to come into direct contact with the virus.
  3. I could have potentially infected my family and my mother is an elderly woman. But I praise and thank GOD!!!!
  4. I cannot hug and comfort my children. My little snookums who I had been sleeping with since his dad left for NY is my constant companion. I have exposed him more so than anyone else. Him being my baby, I tickle and play and kiss him up all the time, and I was already infected and shedding COVID all over my child.
  5. Being unable to be and play with him, now I have to see him in passing and go outside to talk to him for a bit. He always has new engineering wonders to show me and now I cannot interact with him.
  6. On top of me being ill his dad is still in NY, so he does not have a real parent right now. Gee wanted to come home, I said no. We had always decided only one of us would take a risk at any given time.
  7. My daughter is petrified to come down to the bottom floor where I am in my own space.
  8. I am fed by them placing my meals outside my door. That is a hoot…being fed, I find humor in it.

On the road to recovery:

My Gee is always on the phone with me and a source of support and knowledge. My mother and my children are here and my friends are all helping to keep me together. I go outdoors often to look at the plants and I have been watching NETFLIX – oftentimes I fall asleep during a show.

I do love to watch movies and shows in other languages, especially French as I think it activates new neurons to hear and follow the plot while reading subtitles and trying to stay on top of the many nuances. My future guarantee against Alzheimer’s.

So I am coping pretty well.

I trust in my God and in that knowledge, I rest knowing this too shall pass.

Stay blessed and stay well.

 

Posted on 62 Comments

Positive for COVID-19

I have Tested Positive — and I am doing better than expected!

About nine days ago, on Saturday during a regular workday I began feeling unwell. As a frontline healthcare worker we are currently placed in the line of fire each and everyday. I will go out on a limb and state that our PPE (personal protective equipment) is nowhere as protective as it should be.

The infection control nurse is the one called upon to interpret the CDC’s guidelines and she does a poor job of it. Her verbalized interpretations leaves us quite confused. We are often not in agreement when reading standard English. Of course she is also never the one in front when the battle lines are drawn.

About nine days I got home after a 12-hour shift feeling very tired. By the next morning I felt fairly ill. I checked my blood pressure several times throughout the first day at the urging of my hubby. He has been in New York at the acme of the pandemic and we we began the process of ruling out what could be ailing me.

My blood pressure was just slightly elevated while my heart rate and oxygen saturation were within normal limits. So using the process of elimination we were heading into scary territory.

I was hesitant to follow where the signs were leading because no one looks forward to contracting COVID-19. The second day, Monday I spent in my bed mostly napping.

I never developed a fever.

We are screened every day at work based on an outdated CDC model of screening for elevated temperatures but that is rarely a major presenting symptom. This stipulation was birthed when this dreaded disease was in its infancy and I believe that some of the guidelines should be obsolete. COVID dances to the beat of its own drum and may present with any symptom, from gastrointestinal to “I just don’t feel well”!

By Tuesday I began to feel a lot better and so I chalked it up to me catching a light summer cold. I had slept with a fan blowing directly at me in addition to the air condition being on “cold”. I was congested but got up and even went bike riding. I did find myself panting a little more than usual on the uphill climb but told myself I was no longer a kid.

Wednesday I was mostly fine with a little residual fatigue and on Thursday I went back to work. Each day we are screened at the front door and given our masks before entry, my temperature has never gone above 97.8.

I then began working my 12-hour shifts and would go home at the end of the day and crash. By the third day, Saturday I was quite tired in the morning and for the first two days I had been plagued by a headache on and off and was taking Tylenol to keep it at bay.

On Saturday I made myself the usual cup of French vanilla coffee but it seemed even more bitter than usual. Later we had a patient and the other nurse asked if I smelled alcohol. I had not smelled any alcohol … and then voila … the light bulb went off and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt… COVID-19!

I could not taste or smell my food or anything else. I had developed anosmia!

The evening before I had gone home and ate my dinner. I thought it was quite brackish, but I was more tired than hungry and off to bed I went. The next day, Saturday I would later realize that I had lost my sense of smell and taste. Anosmia along with a tension-like headache are among some of the classic symptoms of COVID-19.

On Monday morning I texted my boss (she is also the employee health nurse) to let her know that I needed to be tested for COVId-19 and within a few hours received the results … a resounding COVID positive.

I am to quarantine for the next fourteen days, keep a daily log of temperatures and symptoms, and will present myself to be tested for two consecutive negative results and then and only then will I be released to go back to work.

It has been about nine days since I first began feeling unwell.  My symptoms thus far:

  • I have fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body aches
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Some chest soreness with I take a deep breath

The Pièce de résistance — these excruciatingly painful headaches that never really goes away but waxes and wanes. The ache marches anxiously in the periphery covertly awaiting its next mode of attack. The pain feels like a pick axe made of ice that systematically circles my brain piercing cells with tiny sharp shards of ice.

Though I consider myself healthy, I am feeling weak and I could tell that my body is battling hard in this fight. I have lost the strength I had just two weeks ago. I feel so unsure of myself, I would not even walk away from my home by myself. I venture into the backyard for some sunlight.

COVID-19 is nothing to play with, currently Texas is teeming with this disease as well as ignorance.

Mostly because many persons did not and still refuse to practice social distancing and protecting themselves and others by wearing a damn mask. These same non-masking wearers then become infected and present to the ER putting myself and all other frontline workers and our families at risk.

Be mindful of others and wear a mask and practice basic hygiene! If not for your sakes, for the sake of others!

God is good, I remain faithful!

Posted on 12 Comments

Un-masked

pexels-photo-3962285
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

An strange encounter with a mask-less shopper.

Two days ago I took my 15-year old daughter to the store. Once a favorite pastime, it is now a journey of bare necessity. I was happy to browse around the isles while she did her shopping. Suddenly I was rudely yanked out of my reverie by what appeared to be a female shopper.

“Did you see Fauci, that someone taped and put him on the internet, he was speaking without a mask on”? I blankly looked at the speaker, a bit perturbed. Instinctively I shook my head no. In my mind the questions began.

Why would I feel the need to monitor whether Dr. Fauci wears a mask or not, he ought to know better but if not, what can I do about it. And why in God’s name is this strange woman interrupting me when I have my mask on and so does my daughter to ask me such a question. Then again, Why she this “unmasked” stranger decides to ask me about someone else when she herself does not have a mask on?

She continues rambling on that she has the video and can show it to me. No thank you I said to her, I will google it. Again she offers to show it to me. She tells me I have it here, let me show you. I repeat, no … she insists.

Again I tell her no and walk off.

My mind is questioning again, her insistence that I come to look at her phone. Why would I want to be that close to any person in the state of Texas that does not see fit to wear a mask to protect herself to view something on her phone.

She went on to state that she had broken her nose and found it difficult to breathe with a mask on and even went so far as to say that she had her mask in her pocketbook and can show it to me. Keep in mind no such words escaped my lips. I am not monitoring masks.

I kept walking to the cash register trying to get out of there. As I was in this bizarre information exchange with this unmasked stranger. I looked around and realized that several other patrons were mask-less as well.

The cashier to her credit was wearing a mask, although it was residing well below her nose. The theme song from the twilight show is now playing in my head.

I hurried my daughter out of that establishment and she said “mom that was really bizarre. What was that all about?”

I have no answers.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

I told my daughter if she ever gets a ridiculous request like that do not, in today’s pandemic step closer that six feet to look at anyone’s phone or anything else. Most especially if that person is, in my opinion, disrespecting themselves and others by refusing to wear a mask. They should be deemed dangerous.

Later I reflect on what would make that unmasked stranger approach me with such bizarre information sharing? I was not speaking of masks, I was not on the phone, in fact I was not speaking at all.

Be vigilant and stay well.

Posted on 24 Comments

COVID-19 Rises Again!

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on UnsplashEnter a caption

Are the up-rise in numbers due to early re-openings?

Many still show up to the hospitals to be treated with no mask on, what this tells me is that they may be out and about within the community without a mask as well. This is scary!

So the state of Texas was one of the first ones to reopen. When the idea was first proposed we, the healthcare workers along with many others thought what a bad idea that was. While we understood the economic reasons, we realized that more than likely we would see a rise in the number of cases.

Photo by Enrique Macias on Unsplash

What are we to glean from the current steady rise in the states that reopened early? It seems that the curve is not flattening as hoped but is on the upward climb.I attribute this as a direct result to non-compliance, more persons out and about. The protesting and rally’s without masks will not help matters any. It remains a game of wait and see, but for now officials are mostly skirting the issue and we are left to make our own conclusions…

UPDATE 06/25/2020!

Posted on 40 Comments

A Man Called Daddy

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Proverbs 20:7 The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

This is my mother’s story.

My mother was born to a great father. He was daddy to nine children and a wonderful “uncle James” to many more. His own father was killed when he was a mere two years old. His dad, a farmer was killed when he was butted and gored by one of his own cows.

So her daddy did not have his own role model.

My mother is the first girl and the third child of nine. She loved her daddy dearly and cannot remember a time when she heard a harsh word pass his lips. By all accounts he was a godly and gentle man, filled with wisdom and love for his family, his friends and his neighbors. He knew God’s words backwards and forward and even as he lay on the verge of transitioning he would redirect anyone on incorrect scripture.

According to my grandfather, a man can be successful and achieve anything if he is determined to work hand, always saved a portion of his earnings and if he is blessed with a contented wife!

My mom remembers that as a farmer, (he farmed vegetables and rice and reared animals), he would always share with his community. If anyone stole his produce he would theorize that they needed it more than he did.

He would frown upon abuse of any kind especially that of men and their wives. My grandpa grew up with little, that was soon after slavery was abolished, (my patriarchal side of the family were instrumental in the abolishment of slavery, I am so proud of my heritage). My grandfather and his brothers would purchase land together with other relatives and as such he was able to leave a sizeable legacy for his children. 

My mother, her siblings and everyone who knew my grandpa, remembers him as a kind, wise and blessed soul.

My mother has expressed that she will be buried alongside her father as there is nowhere else she would rather spend eternity. Now that speaks volumes for the daddy he was!

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

I wish all his grandchildren had gotten to know him.

I called him daddy as well and remember a kind and gentle man who told his grandkids stories sitting under a tree in the backyard. I was 6 years old when he died.

I am sure today is “Father’s Day” in heaven as well, where great daddys’ are rewarded for serving their children well.

 

Posted on 14 Comments

Social Distancing Reaches New Heights!

Rosemary Arends, right, a nurse and flight attendant for South African Airways, checking the temperature of a passenger before a charter flight from Miami International Airport.
Image credit: The New York Times

Last month I wrote a post posing the question, “are we losing our freedoms?“. At the time It was just based on my own imaginings and thought processes. But a few of those things are fast becoming a reality. Yesterday I saw an article that a few many major airlines are taking a stance against the spread of COVID-19. It will not be long before others follow suit.

Requiring masks

Airlines require masks for ALL employees and travellers. Temperature checks are also a requirement. Persons are encouraged to check in using the kiosks, phones, computers and any and all electronic tools in line with continuing with the policies of social distancing.

According to Airlines for America , all passengers are required to wear a face mask throughout the journey.

Delta and United are issuing warnings that for the “rogue” crown who either do not want to wear facemasks or wears them only to ditch them once aboard the flight. These rogue passengers may be removed from the flight if possible or risk being placed on their “restricted” travel list. These rules take effect June 18th.

Airplanes are fitted with hepa filters, similar to the ones used in the healthcare facilities and these filter and destroy microbes to the tune of 99.97%. So there is some protection, but that should not give the rogue crowd carte blanche to sit next to anyone without a mask as we will be surely sharing microbes.

Temperature checks

Airlines are in favor of doing temperature checks and Frontier and Air Canada are already leading the way. Travellers will have to submit themselves to having their temperatures checked and will not be permitted to board if your temperature is above 100.4° at first check, you will be given some time to rest. Then a second check will be done. If it again records at 100.4° you will not be permitted to travel that day.

This will not be done by touch but will use infrared and thermal thermometers (see above pic.), in upkeeping the social distance standards.

On Frontier you are required to complete a health acknowledgement form stating that neither yourself or any known members of your immediate circle has had symptoms of COVID-19 within the recent 14-days and this form is required prior to check-in. You will also acknowledge and agree to their new policies with regards to use of masks and your submission for temperature checks.

Requesting a bathroom break — reminiscent of school days.

pexels-photo-3765551

Photo by Konstantin Mishchenko on Pexels.com

The pièce de résistance – on Ryanair you have to make a request to use the bathrooms!!! They are trying to prevent lines forming while you wait to use the lavatory (I can see how this makes some sense, but the public may not like it). It also prevents persons standing next to you and breathing all over you while waiting on line.

Planes will be boarded from the back to the front and currently not by “class” as was typically done. The center seats are currently unoccupied and this is in keeping with the CDC’s guidelines.

While I do see that we are losing some autonomy, I submit to the policies freely at this time as the needs of the many should always outweigh the needs of the few. We must submit to these policies so that we can keep COVID-19 at bay as much as possible and a hope to return to normalcy as soon as possible.

We must remain cognizant of the sacrifices of frontliners and their families in the fight against this evil and do ALL must do our part to horor their bravery and sacrifice.

The Department of Transportation is leaving the planning up to the airlines but will support their policies.

References:

God bless us. Amen!

 

Posted on 25 Comments

Spoken Word — Powerful

I do not know this artist, but his words touch the core of my being.

This spoken word piece was sent to me by my dear cousin. She grew up in England. I thought I would share as it moved me as every word he spoke resonated with me.

I pray someone out there get the message of his words and a heart is influenced.

Peace and blessings.

 

Posted on 29 Comments

Alzheimer’s Disease–The Long Goodbye

Day of Worship Church Flyer

Alzheimer’s disease is cruel. It leaves to mourn family, friends and caregivers for an inordinate length of time.

You see your loved one fade until it seems they are no longer present.

Many years ago I worked as a caregiver to a man who was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. He, by my estimate was just entering the final stages of severe Alzheimer’s. Many of the symptoms below are so familiar to me in retrospect.

Incredibly Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal consequence of the aging process! Imagine that the greatest risk factor of developing this disease is “aging”.

Aging, a process in which we do not have a choice!

More than 5 million Americans and their families and caregivers are currently living under the enormous constraints of  this disease. It is currently the sixth leading cause of death.

But the aged are not the only ones affected, more than 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have what is considered early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s Disease

Although Alzheimer’s is considered a type of dementia, that diagnosis in and of itself is not actually the disease. Dementia occurs as a symptom of this disease. It is also a term  used to categorize some the symptoms, such as the loss of memory, judgment and other intellectual behaviors of cognition.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder of the brain that will eventually impact your memory, your ability to think, to communicate, to process language and emotions until you are unable to carry out even the simplest tasks of daily living.

How and why it occurs is not yet understood but scientists think abnormal clumps of protein called amyloid plaques and tangled bundles of fiber called tau or neurofibrillary bundles contribute to this monstrous disease.

It is also believed that the changes begin decades before the first symptoms are seen. The disease first develops in the memory forming hippocampus and enthorinal cortex which plays an essential role in memory formation.

healthy brain versus alzheimers brain
Image credit: https://www.nia.nih.gov/

Alzheimer’s and Your Brain

The human brain contains approximately 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) tasked with being the control center of the body. Each nerve cell connects with many others forming communication networks. Each groups of nerve cells perform a specific task.

These special cells tells the body how to process thoughts, sounds, light, sight, motor processes and gives us the ability to recall and apply information learned.

To do their work, brain cells must operate like tiny efficient factories. They receive stimuli and sustenance and in return provide the necessary feedback allowing us to be “present” in the process of living.

Scientists so far have been unable to pinpoint where, how and why the breakdown in the network initially begins. As this breakdown in communication continuously occurs, the machine eventually loses its ability to operate efficiently and fails, ceasing to function altogether.

Symptoms of The disease

  • Inability to recall recent information, places, names, events
  • Mental confusion about time and place
  • Confusion or inability complete familiar everyday  tasks
  • Difficulty in articulation
  • Impaired judgment
  • Unexplained personality changes.

Three stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Mild  — It is usually at this stage that a diagnosis is made. Affected persons experience and exhibit greater memory loss and cognitive difficulties. They may begin to wander, become easily lost and have difficulty in handling basic everyday tasks.  They begin to ask the same questions many times while taking longer to complete simple everyday tasks and may begin having behavior and personality changes.
  • Moderate  — At this stage the areas of the brain that control language, reasoning, sensory processing, and conscious thought are damaged and more deficits become evident. Patients begin to have problems recognizing family and friends, unable to process new information, demonstrates an inability to get dressed and are emotionally unable to cope. They may showcase impulsive behaviors and are prone to hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.
  • Severe — As the plaques and tangles becomes more prominent, the brain tissue shrinks significantly (see image above). Inability to communicate and complete dependency occurs at this stage.

What You can do to Prevent Early Onset

  • Working a mentally stimulating job
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Learning new tasks, e.g new language, new skills
  • Memorization exercises
  • Proper diet and exercise
  • Get lots of vitamins C and E
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels

Keeping your mind and body limber throughout your life has been shown to benefit you in your later.

Proper diet and exercise promote good health in general and may ward off countless diseases including Alzheimer’s onset. Eat a diet containing fish oils, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C.

Management

Currently this disease is managed with medications and behavioral therapy. The aim of management is to:

  • Slow the progression of the disease as much as possible.
  • Assist in the maintenance of mental function.
  • Manage adverse behavioral symptoms of the disease.

Is There a Cure?

At this time there is no known cure!

Generally according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation  any person with this diagnosis can expect to live four to eight years after diagnosis.

Research

  • Research has shown that people who scored lower on cognitive ability tests when young were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s later in life. Early cognitive ability was measured based on writings done by the nuns while in their early 20’s.
  • Persons showing more “idea density” i.e. the number of ideas expressed using the least amount of words coupled with better linguistic and grammar skills had a much lower incidence of Alzheimer’s later in life.
  • Scientists are of the opinion that good cognitive skills early on creates a sort of “neurocognitive reserve” which will be drawn on later, effectively preventing Alzheimer’s.
  • Exercising and improving cognitive skills via writing, reading and learning – anything that stimulates the brain – may go a long way toward active, clear headed and graceful aging.
  • Good news for WordPress writers, we are working on creating that mental reserve, so keep on creating!

Final Thoughts

While there is believed to be a genetic component which would predispose someone to the risk of Alzheimer’s, awareness, early planning, mental exercise, and smart dietary choices may aid to reduce your likelihood of developing this mysterious and debilitating disease.

A healthy mind and a healthy body now will make for a healthy mind and body later. So let us be mindful of how our current choices will impact us in the future.

Be kind to each other, especially persons suffering with memory issues, give them love and comfort and help them to always feel safe.

Sources Cited: