Frontotemporal Dementia – Symptoms, Stages, Treatment and Life Expectancy

Is your loved one showing an abrupt change in behavior? Is he or she becoming a social recluse, suffering from weakness and even finding it difficult to hold urine for a long time? It may be signs of a Frontotemporal Dementia onset. Read on to know what is Frontotemporal Dementia, what causes Frontotemporal Dementia and the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the condition.

Frontotemporal Dementia Definition

Frontotemporal Dementia pictures
Picture 1 – Frontotemporal Dementia
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Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is a medical syndrome that affects only some parts of the brain and gives rise to health complications like memory loss, speech difficulties and behavior changes. It is a rare and also a permanent type of dementia.

Frontotemporal Dementia Names

This disease is known by many other names like :

  • Pick’s Disease
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration
  • Lobar Sclerosis
  • Primary Progressive Aphasia
  • Focal Cerebral Atrophy
  • Semantic Dementia
  • Arnold Pick’s Disease
  • Circumscribed Brain Atrophy

Frontotemporal Dementia Symptoms

Some of the main symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia are :

Physical Abnormalities

The patient is found to have lesser control over his body and suffers from involuntary urination. There is also tightness in the body muscles.

Neurological Problems

The sufferer also has impaired nerve functions that can result in loss of memory and Apraxia or impaired movement and coordination. There may also be difficulties in understanding speech and speaking properly.

Emotional Disorders

An initial symptom of Frontotemporal Dementia is a change in emotional display in the sufferer. The person suffers from sudden mood swings and fails to show sympathy or emotional warmth. There is a loss of interest in daily activities and events which affects the person’s profession. In such cases, a person often fails to keep his or her job.

Behavioral Abnormalities

An individual suffering from this disorder also shows marked change in behavior. His or her behavior becomes highly different and even borders on socially unacceptable. Such people may show less concern for other’s feelings in the Frontotemporal Dementia initial stages and a total lack of feeling for others in the later period.

Frontotemporal Dementia Causes

Frontotemporal Dementia arises when unnatural substances called Pick cells or Pick bodies develop inside the nerve cells in some parts of the brain. These abnormal cells have an atypical protein known as Tau which is found in all nerve cells. People suffering from this disorder have Tau protein in an abnormal quantity.

Is Frontotemporal Dementia Hereditary?

It is not known why this protein is formed. However, in Frontotemporal Dementia heredity is supposed to be a causative factor. Many varied types of unnatural genes are believed to give rise to this protein.

Is Frontotemporal Dementia Rare?

Frontotemporal Dementia is a rare condition. Cases have been reported where young people, even in their twenties, have suffered from this syndrome. However, it is more common in people between 40 and 60 years of age. The average age for this disease to occur is 54.

Frontotemporal Dementia Stages

A patient of Frontotemporal Dementia goes through seven stages.

First Stage

The person shows no abnormal behavior. There is no loss of memory and the mental health of the individual is intact. All normal persons are considered to be potential Frontotemporal Dementia sufferers in the first stage.

Second Stage

There is very mild mental decline marked by forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is one of the frontotemporal dementia early symptoms.

Third Stage

The forgetfulness increases with Frontotemporal Dementia progression and it is accompanied by concentration problems and decreased work performance.

Fourth Stage

Concentration difficulty increases in sufferers and they may also start forgetting about recent events. They may also have problems managing finances or travelling alone. Social withdrawal starts from this stage.

Fifth Stage

The person suffers from drastic cases of memory loss and need to be assisted in carrying out daily activities. In sufferers of Frontotemporal Dementia gait is affected and they also begin to lose sensation of the time of the day.

Sixth Stage

The individual fails to recognize his loved ones and suffers from slurred speech. Ability to understand declines as does physical functions such as holding urine. There are also delusions, agitation and anxiety. In advanced stages of Frontotemporal Dementia hallucinations are common.

Seventh Stage

In the Frontotemporal Dementia final stages sufferers completely lose the ability to move, communicate or carry out activities by themselves. The total Frontotemporal Dementia duration is usually 6-10 years.

Frontotemporal Dementia Diagnosis

The diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia begins with the doctor asking the family members of the patient about the symptoms. His or her medical history is also taken into account. A brain biopsy helps confirm the presence of Frontotemporal Dementia. But a battery of Frontotemporal Dementia tests may also be conducted to differentiate the disorder from other similar syndromes. These involve Electroencephalogram exams, neurological exam and CT scan of the head.

A lumbar puncture may be done to examine the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain of sufferers. The person’s sensation, motor function and cognitive function may also be tested.

In most patients of Frontotemporal Dementia MRI scans are also carried out.

Frontotemporal Dementia Differential Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis for Frontotemporal Dementia involves distinguishing the disorder from other similar conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease. A Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan and Blood tests are helpful in ruling out presence of any other disease.

Frontotemporal Dementia Treatment

There is no absolute treatment of Frontotemporal Dementia. The treatment of Frontotemporal Dementia mainly involves reducing the symptoms such as behavioral alterations and mood changes. Antidepressants and Antipsychotic medications are used to counter the behavioral switches.

Serotonin-based supplements and tranquilizers can also be used as Frontotemporal Dementia cure. Behavioral and speech therapies are found to be quite effective in reducing the symptoms.

There is still no known way to cure Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration. Due to this problem a sufferer cannot be completely cured, even though symptoms can be controlled to a point.

Frontotemporal Dementia Prognosis

Unless the symptoms are kept under check with the help of medications and therapies, the disorder can affect patients more quickly and also cause death.

Is Frontotemporal Dementia Fatal?

Yes, Frontotemporal Dementia is a fatal disease. Sufferers of this disease usually die within 10 years. In Frontotemporal Dementia death is usually a result of organ failure or an infection in some cases. Average Frontotemporal Dementia life expectancy is 7 years.

Frontotemporal Dementia Prevention

It is impossible to predict which individual is going to suffer from this syndrome. Naturally, there is no way to prevent the occurrence of this disorder.

If you have a loved one showing Frontotemporal Dementia early signs, it is best that you seek immediate medical treatment. Frontotemporal Dementia is an incurable disease that wastes the sufferer gradually. But with effective treatment and therapies, you can increase the life span of the suffering individual.


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