Are you having trouble remembering things, making decisions or having hard time concentrating? You may be suffering from cognitive decline. Although cognitive decline is associated with the aging process it can be caused by other factors such as infections like the herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2.
Just last March, a study published in Neurology found that people who had herpes simplex type 1 virus could be at greater risk for cognitive problems especially when it came to memory.
The study which consisted of 1,625 people, average age 69 years and lived in northern Manhattan in New York, they were given brain function tests that measured thinking, memory and processing abilities and were tested yearly for an average of eight years. Participants had blood samples taken that were tested for five common low grade infections: three viruses (herpes simplex type 1 (oral) and type 2 (genital), and cytomegalovirus), chlamydia pneumoniae (a common respiratory infection) and Helicobacter pylori (a bacteria found in the stomach).
The results showed that those with higher levels of the herpes simplex type 1 virus in their blood were more likely to have more cognitive deficits. More research needs to be done before one can be more definitive about the relationship between the virus and cognitive decline.
In a University of Michigan study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases for the first time has shown a link between cognitive impairment and herpes simplex virus Type 1 (HSV-1) in children and cytomegalovirus (CMV) in adults.
Researcher’s used data from the National Health [Unlink] and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III and found that HSV-1 (oral herpes) is linked with reading and spatial reasoning test scores among children ages 12-16; impaired coding speed, which is a measure of visual motor speed and attention. HSV-1 was also linked to immediate memory impairment among middle-age and older adults. CMV was linked with impairment in coding speed, learning and recall in middle-aged adults.
Dr. Amanda Simanek, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee commented in a release “If HSV-1 begins to have impact on cognitive function early in life; HSV-1 infection in childhood may have important consequences for educational attainment and social mobility across the lifespan.”
“Once acquired, herpes viruses are never cleared from the body and instead persist in a latent state. Such pathogens are, however, subject to reactivation and capable of invading the central nervous system, where they may exert direct damage to brain.”
The researchers say further studies are warranted to examine the biological pathways by which these herpes viruses may affect cognitive impairment over time.
Dr. Daniel Forton BSc, PhD, MBBS, FRCP, Consultant Hepatologist and Gastroenterologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer at St George’s Hospital London along with colleagues in 2002 investigated whether HCV infection has a direct effect on the central nervous system, resulting in cognitive and cerebral metabolite abnormalities. The results which were published in Hepatology showed that patients with HCV who were tested using a computer-based system fared worse on concentration and memory recall than patients who had cleared the virus.
Would you believe me if I said that cold sores, yes the ones that come from herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), HIV and even cytomegalovirus (CMV) are linked to the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
A study published in PLoS ONE shows that HSV-1 contributes to the development of dementia. According to Dr. Elaine Bearer, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair for Research. Department of Pathology and lead author of study explained “herpes infects mucous membranes, such as the lip or eye, and generates viral particles.” “These viral particles burst out of the cells of the mucous membrane and enter sensory nerve cells where they travel inside the nerve toward the brain.”
“It’s no longer a matter of determining whether HSV1 is involved in cognitive decline, but rather how significant this involvement is, “said Dr. Bearer.
For now researchers suggest treating a cold sore as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of time the virus is active. The faster a sore is treated, the faster HSV1 returns to its dormant stage.
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Dr. Shi-Bin Cheng, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Research) and Bio Med Pediatrics, Alpert Medical School, Brown University commented in the public release, “Clinicians have seen a link between HSV1 infection and Alzheimer’s disease in patients, and so we wanted to investigate what might be going on in the body that would account for this.” What we were able to see in the lab strongly suggests a causal link between HSV1 and Alzheimer’s Disease.”
For over 20 years it has been observed that some people with the disease experience declines in cognition that impairs memory, attention, language, problem solving and decision making that can occur when HIV enters the nervous system and impacts the health of nerve cells. It is estimated that cognitive dysfunction is a major problem for an estimated 1 million Americans living with HIV.
There are several types of HAND (HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders):
Asymptomatic Neurocognitive Impairment (ANI) is diagnosed if testing shows HIV-associated impairment in cognitive function, but everyday functioning is not affected.
Mild Neurocognitive Disorder (MND) is diagnosed if testing shows HIV-associated impairment in cognitive function, and mild interference in everyday functioning.
HIV-associated Dementia (HAD) is diagnosed if testing shows marked impairment in cognitive function, especially in learning of new information, information processing, and attention or concentration. This impairment significantly limits your ability to function day-to-day at work, home, and during social activities.
ADC (AIDS Dementia Complex) is a type of dementia that occurs in advanced stages of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is a later stage HIV infection. It affects your ability to function in daily life and work and can be fatal. According to experts ADC results directly from the HIV infection itself. Although HIV does not infect brain nerve cells, the virus may indirectly inflame them or kill them.
ADC varies greatly from person to person. Symptoms may progress quickly or slowly. It generally affects four different areas of your brain function: thinking abilities, behavior, coordination and movement and mood.
If you believe you are experiencing a decline in cognitive function discuss it with your primary care provider or visit a neurologist.
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