Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is a specific type of dementia with symptoms quite similar to Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Almost 10% of all dementia cases are DLB. Some experts refer to the same condition by other names – the list includes Lewy body variant of Alzheimer's disease, LBD, cortical Lewy body dementia, and senile dementia of Lewy body type. It is worth mentioning that Lewy body dementia symptoms are quite confusing and are usually mistakenly diagnosed as several other conditions. It is therefore important to know the symptomsto identify the most suitable treatment option.
Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms
Some of the most common LBD signs and symptom include the following:
- Visual hallucinations: You may experience visual hallucinations, and see shapes, colors, people, or animals that aren't there in reality. Some people may also experience olfactory, auditory, or tactile hallucinations. Hallucinations are usually the earliest symptoms of LBD.
- Movement disorder: You may notice some symptoms common in patients of Parkinson's disease. This may include rigid muscles, slowed movement, shuffling walk, and tremors.
- Affected body functions: Your nervous system regulates pulse, blood pressure, and digestive process, and LBD affects that part. This usually leads to falls, dizziness, and bowl issues.
- Cognitive issues: You may notice cognitive problems that are usually common in Alzheimer's disease, such as reduced attention, confusion, and memory loss.
- Sleep issues: Many LBD patients experience a sleep disorder called rapid eye movement. This condition will make you act your dreams physically while you're still sleeping.
- Changing attention: You are more likely to face issues like long periods of staring into space, disorganized speech, and long naps during the day.
It is worth mentioning that as LBD affects that part of your nervous system that deals with automatic bodily functions, such as the heart, muscles, and glands, you may experience the following symptoms as well.
- Change in body temperature
- Fainting and dizziness
- Sensitivity to cold and heat
- Urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction
- A poor sense of smell
When to See a Doctor
If you think you or someone in your family has these early symptoms of dementia, it is a good idea to discuss it with your general physician. Your GP will perform certain tests to identify the causes behind Lewy body dementia symptoms to determine a plan of action.
Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosis
Just like other types of dementia, it is hard to pinpoint a test that will help make a decision about your condition. It is more of a "clinical" diagnosis, which means the doctor will use his/her knowledge to determine the cause of DLB in your case.
Differences Between Alzheimer's and DLB
It is important to mention that some experts believe that DLB and Parkinson's disease dementia are two different names of the same condition caused mainly due to brain's inability to process the protein alpha-synuclein. However, other experts think they are two different disorders. It's DLB if the earliest dementia symptoms point to DLB and both movement symptoms as well as dementia symptoms show at the same time.
It's Parkinson's disease when movement symptoms appear first and dementia symptoms don't appear at the same time – it usually takes a year or so for dementia symptoms to appear. Delusions and hallucinations are more common in DLB than in Alzheimer's disease. Similarly, REM sleep disorder, dizziness, blood pressure drop, urinary incontinence, and falls are more common in early LBD than in Alzheimer's disease.
Home Care for Lewy Body Dementia Sufferer
It is not easy to take care of someone suffering from LBD, but knowledge about certain things will definitely help make it easier for you to manage LBD symptoms better. The good thing is that patients can stay at home with their families, but they will always require close supervision because there are always chances of a fall.
- Keep active. It is important to encourage LBD patients to stay mentally, physically, and socially active for as long as possible. Daily physical exercise will help maintain a healthy body weight, which is extremely important in this condition. Encourage them to engage in mental activities such as games, puzzles, and reading. They may also opt for safe hobbies. It is important to ensure that all these activities are interactive.
- Remain social interaction. Social interaction is also important for people with LBD. You can take the patient to community centers where they organize several social events and give people a chance to engage in those activities.
- Care for diet. What's more, it is equally important to understand what a person with DLB should or should not eat. It is important to give patients plenty of vegetables and fruits, which in turn will prevent obesity, malnutrition, and constipation. It is important for the patients to stop smoking for safety reasons.