Dementia that “gets worse unusually quickly” is an early sign of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease accounts for 85 percent of cases, a type of dementia that usually first appears between the ages of 60 and 65. However, according to the National Health Service, the condition can develop between the ages of 45 and 75. The brain condition appears to be caused by an abnormal infectious protein called a prion, the NHS reports.

As prions accumulate in the brain, they cause “irreversible damage to nerve cells.”

Can I get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)?

The NHS elaborates: “Theoretically, CJD can be transmitted from a sick person to others.

“But only through injecting or eating infected brain or nerve tissue.

“There is no evidence that sporadic CJD is spread through normal day-to-day contact with sick people or through droplets, blood or sexual contact.”

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People who develop sporadic CJD experience symptoms that affect how the nervous system works.

The initial neurological symptoms of the brain condition include:

  • Difficulty walking due to problems with balance and coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Numbness or tingling in different parts of the body
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems such as double vision
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there).

Advanced symptoms may include:

  • Loss of physical coordination, which can affect a wide range of functions such as walking, speech, and balance (ataxia)
  • Muscle twitches and spasms
  • Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) and bowel movements (incontinence)
  • Blindness
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • loss of speech
  • Loss of voluntary movements.

Advanced psychological symptoms may include:

  • Memory loss, which is often severe
  • Problems with concentration
  • Confusion
  • feeling excited
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Loss of appetite, which can lead to weight loss
  • Paranoia
  • Unusual and inappropriate emotional reactions.
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Alzheimer’s Association experts state that “rapid progression of symptoms is one of the most important signs that a person may have Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.”

The charity notes: “Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease causes dementia that worsens unusually quickly.”

Currently, there is no treatment that can slow or stop the destruction of brain cells caused by the disease.

The rarity of the disease makes it difficult for researchers to find a suitable treatment.

READ MORE: Attempting to follow a conversation could be an early sign of dementia, expert warns

Worldwide, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease occurs in about one in a million people.

The more common types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and the most prominent sign of the condition is difficulty remembering recently learned information.

“Severe memory loss, mental confusion and other serious changes in how our brain works can be a sign that brain cells are malfunctioning,” adds the charity.

As for vascular dementia, this form of brain condition can occur after a stroke.

Insufficient blood flow to the brain can lead to the death of brain cells, which can affect thinking ability.

Depending on the severity of the brain injury, symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Problems speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty walking
  • bad balance
  • Numbness or paralysis on one side of the face or body.

There is evidence from clinical trials that drugs approved to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms may provide “modest benefits” for those with vascular dementia.

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