Alzheimer’s or NPH: Do you know the difference?

I recently learned about a condition called “NPH” which stands for normal pressure hydrocephalus.  You’ve probably never heard of it.  This is a condition that actually mimics Alheizmer’s.  Those who have it suffer from memory loss, just like Alzheimer’s patients.  The easiest way to determine if someone has NPH is to have a CAT scan done.  You see, this condition is caused by an excess amount of pressure on the brain.  An average person has approximately one ounce of fluid on the brain; these people have ten ounces!  That means that they are experiencing symptoms from an excess of fluid pressing on the part of the brain which controls memory.

The one sign that is easiest to spot is their gait.  People with NPH tend to shuffle along with small steps.  They also suffer from incontinence.

How did I find out about this condition?  My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 4 years ago.  She went downhill fast and not only had severe memory loss, but had been in a wheelchair after an extremely active life.  She was downhill skiing at 75!

She was out at breakfast with her husband, and as she was walking (actually, shuffling) across the street with her caregiver, a stranger saw her and shared what he knew about this condition.  He was indeed a guardian angel.    She was tested for NPH and found that she indeed had it.  A simple procedure was done to drain the fluid and within days she had started to remember.  In less than a month she was out of the wheelchair and now goes for walks around the block!

If anyone you know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s please have them tested for NPH.  It could save their lives.


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