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Herpes And Alzheimer’s – Is There A Connection?

When speaking of sexually transmitted diseases, the ones which have instant recall would be AIDS, syphilis or some such.  Other ailments like heart problems or diabetes are the topic of every discussion on health.  Herpes? Not many people would be aware of it, much less realize that it is a viral infection, which infects a majority of the population in almost all urban centers. What is worse is that the infected person may himself not even know that he carries the virus!

History of herpes

Until 1975, there was not much understanding of the herpes virus and was then considered “above the waist” type of infection, mostly around the mouth.  The spread of herpes and its movement below the waist is attributed to the liberal mores and sexual permissiveness, which followed the 1080’s.

What is herpes?

Two types of virus HSV-1 and HSV-2 cause herpes. Without going into details, it is enough to say that it is basically incurable, though it can be contained to some extent, and only the symptoms can be treated. Mostly transmitted through vaginal sex, it is also transmitted through oral or anal sex as well as through the periodic shedding of the skin of the infected person. Hence, it can be understood, that just about anyone, through no fault of theirs, can be infected. The reason for the lack of knowledge or ignorance is that the virus is latent, and there is no understanding when and why it suddenly becomes active.

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Symptoms

The symptoms of the HSV-1, which is believed to be transmitted orally or through skin fall, are blistering infections around the mouth as though it could be anywhere above the waist.  HSV-2 on the other hand is mostly around the genitals and the anus and is usually transmitted sexually.

Prevention

The only sure way to keep away from the herpes virus is to be involved in a monogamous relationship with a person tested to be STD negative. Condoms do provide some protection but is not 100% foolproof.

Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is named after the doctor who first described this form of memory failure. Most aged people, when talking about memory loss, would say, “not what it used to be”. Sadly, Alzheimer’s are a little worse.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is the main cause of dementia.  Dementia is any form of memory loss, losing the problem-solving skills or even having a problem with recall. Categorized as a disease, it is due to the build up of proteins, which form a sort of a plaque, and interferes with the signals being transmitted within the brain. This ultimately leads to death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue.

Symptoms

In the initial stages, and as you age, it would be considered normal to be a little forgetful. However, as it progresses, the symptoms are a little more exaggerated, like becoming more forgetful, not finding the right word while conversing, and in more advanced cases, becoming disoriented in familiar surroundings etc. Basically, it affects the day-to-day activities of the individual.

Since it is located in the most complex part of the human body, the brain, it affects different people, differently. No two patients can be treated similarly, while there could be similarities in the symptoms.

Treatment

Sadly, there is no cure. Drugs are prescribed which would alleviate some symptoms and other drugs to help concentrate, etc.

Connection between herpes and Alzheimer’s

Therefore, what could be a connection between two seemingly totally unrelated diseases. Apparently, there is no connection.

Various types of bacteria and viruses lie dormant in our blood, and herpes is one of them. When the dormant herpes virus becomes active in the brain cells, it is believed it could lead to Alzheimer’s. It is also believed that the plaque formation is the defense mechanism of the brain to defend itself against viruses and bacteria.

However, there is another school of thought which disputes the theory that the plaque buildup in the brain is due to the herpes virus and that Alzheimer’s can in no way be associated with it.

So in conclusion, what is the truth? Well, your guess is as good as mine is.  The jury is out!

 

 

Written by Prabhjot Kour

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