Cognitive disorders refer to a wide range of conditions that affect a person's ability to think, reason, remember, and communicate effectively. These disorders can impact various cognitive functions, including perception, attention, memory, language, and problem-solving. Cognitive disorders can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life and ability to carry out daily activities. Early diagnosis and treatment can be critical in managing the symptoms and slowing the progression of the condition.
Examples of cognitive disorders we treat at St. Joseph Health
These disorders can affect cognitive function in various ways and may have different causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Common symptoms of cognitive disorders
- Memory loss
- Difficulty communicating or finding words
- Trouble with problem-solving or decision-making
- Difficulty with spatial awareness or perception
- Lack of attention or focus
- Confusion or disorientation
- Changes in mood or personality
- Difficulty with daily activities or routines
Cognitive disorder risk factors
- Age: The risk of developing cognitive disorders increases with age, particularly after the age of 65.
- Family history: Having a family history of cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, may increase the risk of developing a cognitive disorder.
- Genetics: Certain genetic factors may increase the risk of developing cognitive disorders.
- Head injury: A history of head injury, particularly repeated head injuries, may increase the risk of developing cognitive disorders.
- Chronic health conditions: Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease may increase the risk of developing cognitive disorders.
- Lifestyle factors: Unhealthy lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a lack of physical activity may increase the risk of developing cognitive disorders.
Diagnosing a cognitive disorder
- Your primary care provider will ask questions about the patient's medical history, including any symptoms they may be experiencing and any medications they may be taking.
- They may perform a physical examination to check for any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the cognitive symptoms.
- They may also perform cognitive tests to assess memory, thinking, and other cognitive abilities. These tests may include a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) or other standardized tests.
- In some cases, imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) may be used to check for any structural abnormalities in the brain.
- Laboratory tests such as blood tests may be used to check for underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to cognitive symptoms.
It is important to note that diagnosing a cognitive disorder can be complex, and it is important to seek professional medical advice from a neurologist if you or a loved one is experiencing cognitive symptoms.