Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia, which is also known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration, is an uncommon type of dementia that affects the brain’s temporal and frontal lobes; the regions that control language, behaviour, and personality. It occurs when abnormal proteins form in the cells of the brain. The cells get damaged, leading to abnormal functioning. Some frontotemporal dementia patients experience dramatic personality changes, which may lead to social inappropriateness and emotional indifference.

Signs and Symptoms

It is difficult to accurately diagnose frontotemporal dementia since the condition shares similar signs and symptoms with several psychiatric disorders, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, it is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease or a mental disorder. The signs and symptoms also vary among individuals. However, scientists have identified some of the most common clusters of signs and symptoms of frontotemporal dementia, and they include:

  • Language problems; slow speaking, incorrect use of words, inability to get words in the right order, and difficulty pronouncing.
  • Memory challenges; this usually occurs in the later stages.
  • Personality and behavioural changes; inappropriate or impulsive acting, loss of motivation, overeating, lack of sympathy, etc.
  • Mental problems; e.g. inability to concentrate, organise, or plan activities.

Frontotemporal dementia patients may also experience other symptoms, such as stiff or slow movements, difficulty swallowing, the inability to control bowel or bladder, and muscle weakness.

Getting Medical Help

If you suspect any early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia, you will need to see your general practitioner for diagnosis. Since there is no single test for this condition, your doctor may perform or recommend a series of tests, including blood tests, mental ability assessment, brain scans, and lumbar puncture, to rule out other diseases.

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