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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Dementia: Diagnosis & Tests
      Category : Health Centers > Mental Health (Mental Disorders)


Alternate Names : Senility

Dementia | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

How is the condition diagnosed?

Dementia can be diagnosed only if a doctor is made aware of the problem. Diagnosis will start with a thorough physical and mental exam, as well as the gathering of a detailed medical history. The family should be prepared to tell the doctor the range of the person's symptoms over time. The doctor will want to know how the symptoms progressed and whether they have improved or become worse. Also, the family should report how suddenly or gradually symptoms appeared.

A complete list of all medicines the person is taking will be needed. This includes over-the-counter products, herbal remedies, and prescription medicines. Combinations of drugs may impair thinking at times.

To determine if other medical conditions may contribute to the symptoms, the doctor may order certain tests, such as:

  • blood tests, such as a complete blood count, called a CBC, thyroid function tests, tests for infectious diseases, and tests to determine vitamin levels in the blood
  • memory testing
  • electroencephalogram, called an EEG, which measures brain waves
  • electrocardiogram, called an EKG, which measures the electrical activity of the heart
  • cranial MRI or cranial CT scans, which can be used to view the structures of the brain
  • spinal tap, a procedure in which a small amount of fluid is withdrawn from the spinal column to check for infection or bleeding
  • Since there is no definitive test for dementia in a living person, the doctor will try to rule out other conditions or diseases that may cause the symptoms.

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    Dementia: Symptoms & Signs


    Dementia: Prevention & Expectations

    Author: Ann Reyes, Ph.D.
    Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 10/10/02

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