Doctors warn of false Alzheimer's diagnosis' in patients

Published: Apr. 11, 2017 at 4:07 PM EDT
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Many believe forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimer’s, but the truth is, a decline in cognitive function is part of normal aging. For adults ages 50 to 65, if you think its Alzheimer’s disease, it's probably something different.

Mary Mehl’s husband, Joe, was declining mentally and physically. Joe was in his mid-sixties and Mary feared that she was losing him to Alzheimer’s. However, a trip to the doctor proved it to be something else. Joe had normal pressure hydrocephalus or NPH, a completely reversible condition.

Joe is not the only one who fears that they are in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. Doctors say they are seeing a rise in patients worried about their memory lapses and fear that it is Alzheimer’s. While most of the time it’s not Alzheimer’s, the question becomes, what is it?

"Many different disorders can cause balance problems and dementia-like illnesses," said Dr. Nestor Tomyca.

Some of the disorders can include NPH, adult add, sleep disorders, substance abuse and simply brain fog. If you are worried about memory loss, start with this.

"See your primary care doctor and to check some basic, basic labs and to investigate it that way. But, if the symptoms aren’t improving, a neurologist should be involved," said Dr. Tomyca.

A recent study at a Toronto hospital found that in autopsies of 116 patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, more than ten percent of them did not actually have it and other conditions or diseases were causing their dementia -like symptoms.