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Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

By HERWriter
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Lewy Body Dementia goes by many names. It is also called Lewy Body Disease, dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB), and diffuse Lewy Body Disease. It has some similarities to Alzheimer's as well as Parkinson's.

Motor abnormalities and dementia are hallmarks of Lewy Body Dementia. Mental function becomes impaired due to Lewy bodies (LBs) in nerve cells (neurons). These are abnormal protein deposits in the mid-brain, and in the outer layer of the brain (cortex).

Lewy bodies cause deterioration in the brain's ability to function and eventually kill nerve cells. Plaque often appears in the brain as well. Lewy Body Dementia usually appears after age 60.

Muscles become stiff, and movement is slow and difficult. The individual's walk becomes a shuffle as their balance becomes precarious and they are prone to falling. Their posture is stooped.

Approximately a year after motor problems arise, the individual begins to have cognitive problems.

Dramatic changes in mental alertness appear. The individual will at times be quite coherent and tuned in, and then other times, they are unable to focus and have trouble speaking. They may stare unseeing into space for long stretches.

If they used to be able to draw, they will have difficulties doing so now, and this difficulty will only increase. They may experience delusions, often frightening ones, and may begin to experience hallucinations.

Not surprisingly, the individual may in turn become fearful, depressed and paranoid. Antipsychotic drugs only make this worse and should be avoided.

Sleep becomes difficult. The individual may suffer from insomnia, or they may act out their dreams. This can be quite dangerous to the individual and to anyone who sleeps with them.

Blood pressure and body temperature may become erratic as the result of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. The individual may be too hot or too cold, they may have problems with bladder or bowels.

Because of the overlap in symptoms between DLB and Alzheimer's, it is difficult to know which condition is being dealt with. Though brain scans gather some information, the Lewy bodies themselves cannot be detected. Autopsy is the only way to know for sure whether the disease is DLB.

There is no known treatment or cure for DLB. The main focus is on the comfort and the safety of the person stricken with this disease, and those caring for them. The life span after DLB emerges is usually between six and eight years.


Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Dementia

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Lewy Body Disease: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, and Support

NINDS Dementia With Lewy Bodies Information Page

Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Add a Comment2 Comments

Lewy Body Dementia can cause visual hallucinations. Seeing colors, shapes, animals or people may be one of the first symptoms of Lewy body dementia. A sleep disorder can cause physically act out your dreams while you're asleep. You can take regular breaks for refreshing your mind.

August 16, 2010 - 12:57am
EmpowHER Guest

Dementia is a progressive decline in cognitive function due to injury or disease of the brain beyond what one would expect the normal aging process. Particularly affected areas may be memory, attention, language and problem-solving, although particularly in the later stages of dementia symptoms of the condition, affected persons may be disoriented in time.
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July 26, 2010 - 1:30am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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