Dementia warning – numbness or tingling here could signal brain decline

Dementia is a general term for a number of conditions affecting the brain. There are more than 100 types of dementia and the symptoms you have will depend on the area of the brain affected and cause of the brain damage. Some symptoms are associated with multiple types of dementia, such as memory loss and mood changes.

There are also a number of symptoms that are specific to the form of dementia one has and these symptoms can be further divided into the subset of that specific type of dementia.

For example, Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) – a rarer of type dementia caused by an abnormally shaped protein infecting the brain – comes in different forms.

As the NHS explains, the pattern of symptoms can vary depending on the type of CJD.

The common type is sporadic CJD, which mainly affects the workings of the nervous system, says the health body.

This causes a number of neurological symptoms, such as numbness or pins and needles in different parts of the body, it adds.

Other neurological symptoms include:

  • Difficulty walking caused by balance and coordination problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems, such as double vision and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there).
  • According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, although it can take some time for the symptoms of CJD to start to appear, once they do the decline is usually far quicker than in other types of dementia.

“Sadly, most people with CJD will die within a year of their symptoms appearing,” says the charity.

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Am I at risk?

Sporadic CJD has no known cause, although there are some risk factors associated with it.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association (AA), age has an influence on sporadic CJD, which tends to develop later in life, usually around age 60.

Other types of CJD, such as familial CDJ, tend to come on earlier, notes the AA.

Research has attempted to shed further light on the risk associations of sporadic CJD but no definitive conclusions have been drawn.

For example, a study published in the journal BMC Public Health attempted to analyse the jump in annual mortality rate from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in Switzerland.

In 2001, the observed annual mortality from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in Switzerland increased from less than 1.5 to 2.6 per million inhabitants.

After conducting their analysis, researchers found that sporadic CJD patients were more likely to have travelled abroad, worked at an animal laboratory, undergone invasive dental treatment, orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmologic surgery after 1980, regular GP visits, taken medication regularly, and consumed kidney.

No differences between patients and controls were found for residency, family history, and exposure to environmental and other dietary factors.

The researchers concluded that the results have to be “interpreted with caution”.

How is sporadic CJD diagnosed?

According to the AA, for sporadic CJD to be diagnosed, a person will have a medical procedure known as a lumbar puncture.

“In this, a thin needle is inserted between two bones in the lower back to remove some spinal cord fluid and look for specific changes in it,” explains the health body.

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