Frontotemporal dementia is one of the less common forms of dementia. The term covers a range of specific conditions. It is sometimes called Pick's disease or frontal lobe dementia. This factsheet explains what frontotemporal dementia is, who gets it, and the symptoms. It also describes how it is diagnosed and the treatment and care that is available. The word frontotemporal refers to the two lobes of the brain that are damaged in this form of dementia. The frontal lobes of the brain – situated behind the forehead – control behaviour and emotions, particularly on the right side of the brain. They also control language, usually on the left. The temporal lobes – on either side of the brain – have many roles. On the left side, these lobes control the understanding of words. Frontotemporal dementia is caused when nerve cells in the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain die and the pathways that connect them change. There is also some loss of important chemical messengers. Over time, the brain tissue in the frontal and temporal lobes shrinks. This damage to the brain causes the typical symptoms of frontotemporal dementia, which include changes in personality and behaviour, and difficulties with language. As frontotemporal dementia is a less common form of dementia, many people (including some health professionals) may not have heard of it. Frontotemporal dementia and younger people
Frontotemporal dementia occurs much less often than other forms of dementia (such asAlzheimer's disease or vascular dementia). However, it is a significant cause of dementia in younger people (under the age of 65). Frontotemporal dementia is probably the third most common cause for people in this age group. It affects men and women about equally. Frontotemporal dementia is most often diagnosed between the ages of 45 and 65, but it can also affect younger or older people. This is considerably younger than the age at which people are most often diagnosed with the more common types of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease. For more information, see factsheet 440, Younger people with dementia. Symptoms
In frontotemporal dementia, a variety of symptoms are caused by damage to different areas of the frontal and temporal lobes. Based on these symptoms and the lobes that are affected, a person may have one of three types of frontotemporal dementia: behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia
progressive non-fluent aphasia
As with most forms of dementia, the initial symptoms can be very subtle, but they slowly get worse as the disease progresses over several years. Behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia
This form is diagnosed in about two thirds of people with frontotemporal dementia. During the early stages, changes are seen in the person's personality and behaviour. A person with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia may: lose their inhibitions – behave in socially inappropriate ways and act in an impulsive or rash manner; this could include making tactless or inappropriate comments about someone's appearance lose interest in people and things – lose motivation but (unlike someone withdepression) they are not sad lose sympathy or empathy – become less responsive to the needs of others and show less social interest or personal warmth; this can make the person appear selfish and unfeeling show repetitive, compulsive or ritualised HYPERLINK "http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=159" behaviours – this can include repeated use of phrases or gestures, hoarding and obsessions with timekeeping crave sweet or fatty foods, lose table etiquette, or binge on 'junk' foods, alcohol or cigarettes. It is common for a person with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia to struggle with planning and organising or making decisions. These difficulties may first appear at work or with managing finances. In contrast to Alzheimer's disease, people with early-stage behavioural...
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