Is Mild Cognitive Impairment Reversible?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a stage which is both noticeable and measurable in terms of loss of cognitive abilities like thinking abilities and memory. Mild cognitive impairment is not dementia, although some cases of mild cognitive impairment can progress to Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.

Is Mild Cognitive Impairment Reversible?

Most of us know that mild cognitive impairment is linked to a greater risk of developing dementia. However, it must be emphasized that mild cognitive impairment will not necessarily turn into dementia. The primary difference between mild cognitive impairment and dementia is that mild cognitive impairment hampers only the cognitive skills and therefore does not disturb the day to day activities of an individual; whereas dementia is known to disrupt the quality of everyday life as well as day to day activities to a much greater extent. In fact, that is how dementia is usually diagnosed – an impairment in otherwise normal day to day activities noticed by the affected person as well as those that are close to him.

On an average, about 9% of the total cases of mild cognitive impairment being diagnosed are potentially reversible. Actually, it rather depends on the cause of the mild cognitive impairment. Like, there are some causes of MCI which can be reversed. Once the causes are taken care of, MCI can get better. Some of the causes of MCI are an infection, renal failure, hyperglycemia, folate deficiency or an underactive thyroid gland. If these conditions can be reversed, mild cognitive impairment can show significant improvements. Also, out of the remaining cases of mild cognitive impairment that cannot be reversed, it is very necessary to state the fact that not all the cases are going to progress into dementia. A significant number of people suffering from mild cognitive impairment do not ever progress to dementia, and some may even show better cognitive skills after an year or two into the condition; though they would still be diagnosed as mild cognitive impairment candidates.

Even though many forms of mild cognitive impairment are not reversible, one can definitely implement some steps in order to reduce the risk of progressing to dementia; and improve the symptoms. It is therefore necessary to focus on the factors like stroke and cardiovascular conditions, as these factors pose a greater risk for a mild cognitive impairment affected person to get dementia. Along with the management of such conditions, more emphasis should be given to being engaged in mentally and socially stimulating activities. Bit of a physical exercise would do good too. Aerobic and strength training, both types of exercises are proven to be improving the cognitive abilities of a person. Along with that, one cannot stress enough the importance of quitting habits like smoking, drinking and substance abuse. Poor vision, hearing ability, walking and balance are also associated with mild cognitive impairment. Hence, it is important to pay attention to these factors as well and get yourself checked regularly.

Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment may be any or all of the following-

  • If you forget things more often than is usual for you
  • You forget important events like appointments
  • You are lost in your thread of conversation or train of thought, like while discussing a movie
  • You feel a difficulty in understanding instructions, planning how to execute a task or making decisions
  • You have problems with finding your way around, especially in a known environment
  • You become more impulsive
  • Your family or friends talk to you about or mark any of these changes in you
  • You may experience depression
  • You may get easily irritable or aggressive
  • You may get anxious
  • You may experience apathy

Being diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment does not necessarily mean that you are going to progress to dementia. However, it is also known that those with mild cognitive impairment are at a greater risk of progressing towards dementia. That said, there are a number of ways by which one can attempt to improve his cognitive abilities and try to stabilize the condition, or better still, make it reversible.

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