What Are Some Differences Between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease?


Quick Answer

The difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is that dementia is a set of symptoms related to many different underlying medical conditions while Alzheimer’s disease is one of those conditions, according to Live Science. Alzheimer’s disease causes between 50 and 70 percent of all dementia cases.

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Full Answer

Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, however, memory loss alone is not sufficient evidence to diagnose a patient with dementia, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. In order to diagnose the condition, doctors look for two or more symptoms, which, in addition to memory loss, include loss of language skills, problem-solving abilities and the ability to control the emotions. Patients with dementia may also exhibit behavioral changes, agitation and personality changes.

Some underlying causes of dementia include infection, poison, nutritional deficiencies, tumors and a lack of oxygen. Additionally, Lewy body dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Huntington’s disease are medical conditions, other than Alzheimer’s disease, in which dementia is a symptom.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that causes the brain cells to degenerate and die, according to Mayo Clinic. As a result, it causes a steady decline in the patient’s brain function and memory. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, some medications can provide temporary improvements. While doctors can determine if patients have dementia and determine the cause, Alzheimer’s disease can be suspected, but only be fully confirmed after the patient’s death as it requires microscopic examination of the brain tissue to fully diagnose.

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