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Intellectual decline is a general term for an abnormal condition in which a person experiences progressive or sudden confusion, disorientation, altered level of consciousness, memory loss and/or problems with cognitive skills. Intellectual decline can result in deficiencies in many areas, such as reasoning, concentration, attention, organization, behavior, critical thinking, problem solving, language, language, and the ability to follow instructions. Intellectual decline is also known as cognitive impairment or cognitive decline.
Intellectual decline is a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. Intellectual decline can result from such general processes and conditions as infection, trauma, malignancy, congenital defects, genetic disorders and brain tissue necrosis. A certain amount of intellectual decline is associated with aging and is called age-related cognitive decline.
Intellectual decline can occur in any age group or population, but intellectual decline is particularly common in the elderly and in people with neurological diseases or disorders, such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease.
Depending on the cause, intellectual decline can be short-term and disappear relatively quickly, such as when intellectual decline occurs due to a neurological disorder called a transient ischemic attack or a mild head injury. However, repeated mild concussions and other head injuries can result in ongoing problems with intellectual decline.
Intellectual decline can also can be chronic and ongoing over a longer period of time, such as when it is due to serious diseases and conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease or a brain tumor. Sudden intellectual decline, such as may occur during a stroke or a subdural hematoma in the brain, can also be serious, even life-threatening.
Very minimal and very slowly progressive cognitive decline can be due to age-related cognitive decline. Age-related cognitive decline is generally regarded by many experts as a normal part of aging, but it may also be associated with conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Intellectual decline can be the result of a wide variety of other conditions, diseases or disorders that directly or indirectly affect the functioning of the brain and nervous system. These include stroke, anemia, atherosclerosis, depression and alcohol intoxication. Causes also include meningitis, malnutrition, bacterial diseases, moderate to severe chronic pain. For more details about causes, see causes of intellectual decline.
There are many symptoms of intellectual decline. Symptoms vary depending on the disease, disorder or condition that is at the root of it. Common symptoms include increasing forgetfulness, confusion, disorientation, behavior changes, irritability, falls, and depression. People with intellectual decline can also experience difficulty with speaking, language, concentration, organizational skills, and the learning, retaining and recalling of information.
Diagnosing intellectual decline and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination, including a neurological examination.
Dementia screening tests may be given. If a diagnosis of intellectual decline is suspected, a mini-mental state examination (MMSE) can be used to assess mental and cognitive function. In the MMSE, a health professional asks a patient a series of questions designed to test a range of everyday cognitive skills.
In addition to a primary care provider, making a diagnosis of the root cause of intellectual decline may involve specialists, such as a neurologist, psychiatrist and/or psychologist. Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose the underlying disease, condition or disorder causing the intellectual decline. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include blood tests, lumbar puncture, urine tests, and imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT scan, nuclear scans and MRI.
A diagnosis of intellectual decline and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because intellectual decline may be mild and progress very gradually. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of intellectual decline.
Treatment of intellectual decline involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of intellectual decline. ...more »
Treatment plans for intellectual decline are individualized depending on the cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the underlying or associated cause and helps to maximize cognitive functioning so a person can function effectively and lead as active and ...more treatments »
Diagnosing intellectual decline and its cause may be delayed or missed because the intellectual decline may not be severe or consistent enough for a person to seek medical care. Intellectual decline can also progress so gradually that it is not regarded as a problem for years.
In addition, many people assume that Intellectual decline is a normal part of ...more misdiagnosis »
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