We look at Signs of Lewy Body dementia as the disease can be difficult to detect.
Lewy body dementia is the third most common form of medical dementia behind Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia. The correct name for this disease is ‘dementia with Lewy Bodies’ or ‘DLB’ as it is also known.
Lewy body dementia affects nearly 10% of all cases of dementias. It most commonly affects people over the age of 65, although it will rarely affect people under the age of 65 years old.
Lewy bodies is a progressive disease, which means that similar to Alzheimer’s disease in that there is no cure at present.
The condition will get worse with time and will affect the persons mental and physical ability. At present, there is no cure for this disease of the brain.
There is much similarity between Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease with the disease Lewy bodies dementia because they affect similar areas of the brain. The disease is similar in some ways to both the dementia resulting from Alzheimer’s disease and the movement problems you get from Parkinson’s disease.
History of Lewy Bodies
Lewy bodies dementia is named after the doctor who first identified them in 1912.
He was called Fredric Lewy (1885 – 1950). Although dementia with Lewy Bodies was only first diagnosed as late as the mid 1990’s when tests on post-mortem brain tissue in patients was found to contain Lewy Bodies (abnormal protein deposits).
Lewy bodies are tiny, spherical protein deposits found in nerve cells. Their presence in the brain disrupts the brain’s normal ability to function correctly, interrupting the action of important chemical messengers, including acetylcholine and dopamine.
Research has yet to understand fully why and how Lewy bodies occur in the brain and how they cause damage to the brain.
Symptoms & signs of lewy body
The specific symptoms and signs of Lewy body dementia will vary, but the core symptoms of the disease are :
– Fluctuating memory with big variations in attention and alertness from day-to-day and hour to hour. Memory loss in DLB is thought not to be as severe as that of Alzheimer’s.
– Recurrent visual hallucinations (seen in 75% of people with Lewy Body) often the hallucinations are of people or animals.
– Movement of the body that is associated with Parkinson’s disease such as slowness, muscle stiffness, trembling of the limbs, a tendency to shuffle when walking and a loss of facial expression.
Diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia
It is difficult to diagnose a person with DLB because it is often mistaken with other forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s and Vascular.
Initially, a diagnosis is given based on the symptoms a person has such as those for Parkinson’s (physical movement) combined with the hallucinations that the person will usually experience. These kinds of symptoms are usually what sets this type of condition apart from other forms of dementias .
It is always advisable to get checked by a specialist if you suspect any memory problems but especially with DLB because medication for this disease varies from other medications prescribed for other forms of dementias and these can have adverse effects.
Other names for this Lewy body Disease include – Lewy bodies, diffuse Lewy body disease, cortical Lewy body disease and senile dementia of Lewy type.