Mild Cognitive Impairment: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

mild cognitive impairment

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition that involves issues with a person’s memory, language or judgment. With age there is some, albeit mild, normal decline in  memory and certain types of thinking capacity. However, if the decline in brain functions is more than “the normal” it may be MCI. Usually, close family members or friends are the first ones to notice the changes and comment that something is “not normal”. MCI may progress to Dementia in many cases, it is hard to predict if or how fast this will happen.

Causes of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Currently medical science does not have answers as to what causes MCI (unless there is known brain damage due to accident or other reasons). In many cases MCI remains stable for years. 

Symptoms of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Brain function, like all other body functions, declines with age. This is why we tend to forget things like a word or someone’s name, as we grow old. These are normal. However, if you show the following symptoms, it may be due to MCI –

·         Forgetting things often

·         Missing appointments or social events

·         Being unable to follow the story of a book or a movie, or a conversation

·         Difficulty in taking decisions, completing a job or following instructions

·         Difficulty in finding your way around often visited places

·         Having poor sense of judgment

·         Having problem in recalling recent events

If you have MCI, you may also experience depression, anxiety, short temper and aggression. Moreover, lack of interest in life may also be a sign of MCI. In case you notice any of these symptoms or you see them in a family member, consider consulting a doctor at the earliest.

Diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Diagnosis is done based on the info you provide and physical examinations of your reflexes, eye movements, walking and balance along with some lab tests.

Mental status testing, both in short and long forms, are done to spot the patterns of change and understand the cause of symptoms. Blood tests are also done to eliminate chances of physical problems like low levels of vitamin B-12 or thyroid hormone – which may affect your memory. MRI or CT scan may also be recommended to rule out a brain tumor, stroke or bleeding.

Treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment

Certain medication may be prescribed to try and slow the progress of MCI.

Conditions like high blood pressure, depression, sleep apnea may affect memory or mental sharpness. Treating these conditions may improve the situation.

Physical exercise, a low fat diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, Omega-3 fatty acids, playing games or musical instruments, reading and other activities may also help preserve brain function and slow the declining process of the mind. Memory and other cognitive training are also known to help improve brain function. Supplements like vitamin E, ginkgo and others may also help to prevent or delay MCI.

Highly experienced MCI specialist doctors work with DocGenie and can help you with any MCI related problems.  If you notice any symptoms of MCI you can get an online/in-clinic consultation with a Psychiatrist or GP on DocGenie for early diagnosis and management.