Dementia develops in many disorders, including some chronic brain infections, progressive supranuclear palsy, and prion diseases (such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease).
This rare prion disease (see see Overview of Prion Diseases) causes a rapidly progressive dementia. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease often leads to severe dementia and death within a year. The most common early symptoms—memory loss and confusion—may resemble those of other dementias.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, thought to be acquired from eating beef contaminated with prions, causes a dementia similar to that due to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, except the first symptoms tend to be psychiatric symptoms (such as anxiety or depression) rather than memory loss.
No treatment is available.
This disorder, also called chronic progressive traumatic encephalopathy, may develop in people who have repeated head injuries, such as boxers and football players. They develop dementia and sometimes symptoms similar to those of Parkinson disease or normal-pressure hydrocephalus. Symptoms usually develop years after the head injuries occurred.
Last full review/revision July 2013 by Juebin Huang, MD, PhD