Man, 19, diagnosed with dementia shares the warning signs

What is dementia?

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Contrary to popular opinion, dementia is not a normal part of ageing. While the brain condition is more common in patients over the age of 65, it can also target younger people. A 19-year-old man, believed to be from Beijing, seems to be the youngest patient with the mind-robbing condition. A case report has shared the warning signs that led to his “probable” Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.

Considered the most common type of the brain condition, Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be triggered by an abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells. 

The two key proteins involved in this process are amyloid and tau, the NHS explains.

Tests and scans of the 19-year-old’s brain revealed that his hypothalamus, an area of the brain that plays a role in cognition, had shrunk. 

His brain also showed signs of damage to his temporal lobe and elevated levels of the pesky protein called tau – both hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

The teenager is believed to have experienced warning dementia signs for two years prior to his diagnosis.

The man had struggled with symptoms, including memory loss, difficulty concentrating, delayed reactions and reading challenges, according to the case report.

By the time he visited doctors at the Capital Medical University in Beijing, he couldn’t even remember what he’d had for dinner the previous day.

Surprisingly, the 19-year-old had no family history of dementia or a genetic mutation that is usually found in very young Alzheimer’s patients.

There are a few genetic mutations that can drive an early onset of the mind-robbing condition: Presenilin 1, Presenilin 2, and Amyloid precursor protein (APP). 

The doctors who published the report last month were puzzled by the teenager’s case.

They said: “This is the youngest case ever reported to meet the diagnostic criteria for probable [Alzheimer’s disease] without recognised genetic mutations.”

Diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease before the age of 65 make up roughly five to 10 percent of all cases, according to research, published in the journal Molecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine.

READ MORE: Young man given three weeks to live after noticing ‘purple spots’ on chest

The case report’s findings question the traditional understanding of Alzheimer’s disease as a condition of the elderly.

The doctors added: “[The study] proposed to pay attention to the early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. 

“Exploring the mysteries of young people with Alzheimer’s disease may become one of the most challenging scientific questions of the future.”

The case study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease on January 31.

What are the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease?

The NHS explains that warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease are often confused with other conditions and may initially be put down to old age.

This is where the importance of symptom awareness steps in, with the early signs including:

  • Forgetting about recent conversations or events
  • Misplacing items
  • Forgetting the names of places and objects
  • Having trouble thinking of the right word
  • Asking questions repetitively
  • Showing poor judgement or finding it harder to make decisions
  • Becoming less flexible and more hesitant to try new things.

The health service recommends seeing a GP if you’re worried about your memory or think you may have dementia.

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