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Symptoms of Binswanger's Disease and How It Is Diagnosed

Symptoms of Binswanger's Disease

Symptoms of Binswanger's disease are related to the disruption of brain connections that control what neuroscientists call executive cognitive functioning, which involves:
  • Short-term memory
  • Organization
  • Mood
  • The regulation of attention
  • The ability to act or make decisions
  • Appropriate behavior.
The most characteristic feature of Binswanger's disease is psychomotor slowness, which is an increase in the length of time it takes, for example, for the fingers to turn the thought of a letter into the shape of a letter on a piece of paper. Other symptoms of Binswanger's disease include:
  • Forgetfulness (but not as severe as the forgetfulness of Alzheimer's disease)
  • Speech difficulty
  • Lack of facial expression
  • An unsteady gait
  • Clumsiness or frequent falls
  • Changes in personality or mood (most likely in the form of apathy, irritability, and depression)
  • Urinary incontinence or other urinary symptoms that aren't caused by urological disease.
These Binswanger's disease symptoms, which tend to begin after the age of 60, are not always present in all patients and may sometimes appear only as a passing phase.

Making a Diagnosis

In order to diagnose Binswanger's disease, the healthcare provider will typically ask a number of questions (known as the medical history) and perform a physical exam. He or she will also usually recommend certain tests. The most accurate tests for diagnosing Binswanger's disease are brain imaging scans, such as a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
(Click Dementia Diagnosis to learn more about how conditions like Binswanger's disease are diagnosed.)
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