Lewy Body Dementia
What is Lewy body dementia?
Lewy body dementia is the second most common form of dementia, characterized by progressively declining mental ability. Affected individuals experience changes in memory, motor control, and thinking.
What are the symptoms of Lewy body dementia?
Symptoms of this condition are progressive and include:
- Visual hallucinations
- Note: Olfactory, auditory, and tactile hallucinations are also possible
- Fluctuating attention (e.g., staring into space for long periods, episodes of drowsiness, long naps)
- Movement disorders
- Note: these can be Parkinson-like in nature
- Sleep difficulties
- Cognitive issues
- Note: these can be Alzheimer’s-like in nature
- Poorly regulated autonomic nervous system
- This can cause symptoms like bowel issues, dizziness, orthostatic hypotension, falls, and loss of bladder control
- Behavioral changes
Lewy body dementia is typically fatal around seven to eight years after onset.
What causes Lewy body dementia?
Lewy bodies, a type of protein, accumulate and form masses in the brain. Medical professionals need to further research where these buildups come from, but they have identified numerous risk factors: age over 60, being male, and a family history of Lewy body dementia.
How is Lewy body dementia diagnosed?
A diagnosis of Lewy body dementia can be difficult, as there is no diagnostic test specific to it. Instead, the process consists of looking for the characteristic symptoms of the disease and ruling out other conditions. Doctors may assess your mental abilities, perform a physical and neurological exam, perform brain scans, use blood tests, and utilize sleep evaluations.
What are the treatments for Lewy body dementia?
There is no cure specific to Lewy body dementia; treatment is aimed at the symptoms present in each individual. Options include medications (e.g., Parkinson’s disease medications, cholinesterase inhibitors), modifying your behavior and environment, and creating a daily routine. Research into other treatments is ongoing as well.