Lewy Body Dementia Explained

Lewy body dementia is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s. Protein deposits in the brain affect functions like thinking and memory. LBD can cause different results like slow movements and tremors.

comforting hand on older patients hands

What are the most common types of dementia? Every year there are about 10 million new dementia cases worldwide. The most frequent one is Alzheimer’s. However, the second most common one is Lewy body dementia (LBD). It involves protein deposits in the brain, which can affect brain functions like thinking/memory and movements. If you or someone you know is at risk of dementia, it’s important to know the symptoms, causes, and treatments of LBD. That includes the Lewy bodies and other details that can help to treat the condition effectively. This is critical to get diagnosed if necessary.

It can be difficult for patients and their families to deal with any kind of dementia. This is a serious mental condition that can affect your day-to-day life. The symptoms can be devastating. It’s important to know key issues about dementia if you or loved ones are at a high risk of suffering from this condition. It’s important to get medications and treatments to make it easier to deal with the condition. The medical world continues to learn about dementia including root causes and new treatments. This can also make it easier to deal with specific types of dementia like LBD. 

What Exactly Is Dementia?

LBD is a certain type of dementia but it’s critical to start with the basics of the general condition. First, dementia isn’t a disease. It’s a mental condition that involves other conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or strokes. This causes the brain to function improperly.

This condition can affect several mental factors including high thinking skills. This can, in turn, affect people’s sanity and social skills. A person with dementia can still function in terms of being able to see/hear.

However, they’re unable to process the information they receive. This causes results like total memory loss or making nonsense statements.

Dementia is often linked to the normal process of aging. However, it doesn’t just happen among seniors. For example, people with Alzheimer’s can experience destroyed brain cells. This can result in serious cognitive problems and within time complete dementia.  

Sometimes people experience something called “senior dementia” without experiencing Alzheimer’s. In this case, they might experience personality breakdown rather than Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, people with Alzheimer’s might be able to do basic functions. However, it’s often impossible for a dementia patient to be social.

Getting diagnosed with dementia can require various psychological tests. This measures mental functions. Dementia can affect abilities like decision making and memory. There also might be changes in language ability and personality.

The state of lost time/space is in the late stages of dementia. Doctors might also look for bad drug combinations or past strokes the patient has had.  

Dementia patients might show many symptoms of mental condition before being diagnosed with dementia. This is known as “delirium.” It’s common among people who have had long hospital stays, sleep deprivation, and major surgery.

Delirium can develop into dementia’s first stages. The difference is several delirium cases can be reversed. This is through different treatments like prescription drugs, counseling, and brain stimulation.

What Is Lewy Body Dementia?

This condition is also called Dementia with Lewy Bodies. It’s the number two most common kind of dementia following Alzheimer’s disease. It involves protein deposits known as Lewy bodies developing in the brain region’s nerve cells. This affects different brain functions like memory, thinking, and movement.

LBD patients experience a gradual decline in mental function. Those with LBD might experience changes in attention/alertness and see fake images. Other symptoms include symptoms/signs like Parkinson’s disease including slow movement, stiff muscles, and tremors.

There are various signs/symptoms for LBD including:

1. Movement problems. There are similar signs as Parkinson’s like stiff muscles, slow movement, or shuffling walking. It can also result in a person falling.

2. Depression. A person might also get depressed if they’re suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies. It’s one of the several possible symptoms of LBD.

3. Focus problems. When people have this type of dementia, they might experience things like looking into space, nonsensical speech, or long daytime naps. These are all signs a person might be suffering from LBD.

4. Visual hallucinations. This could be among the original symptoms and often keep happening. They can include seeing shapes, people, or animals that don’t exist. There are other kinds of hallucinations like sound, smell, and touch.

5. Sleep issues. A patient might have problems getting a good night’s sleep. This can result in people acting out dreams when they’re sleeping. This is due to a condition related to rapid eye movement (REM).

6. Thinking problems. LBD patients can also have problems like Alzheimer’s. This includes bad attention, confusion, memory loss, and visual/spatial issues.

7. Control of body functions. These decrease with LBD patients. The central nervous system (CNS) controls things like blood pressure and digestion. LBD often affects these different functions. It can cause different symptoms like falls, dizziness, and digestion problems.  

LBD: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatments

There are several possible risk factors of this condition including:

  • Age: 60+ years old
  • Gender: More men affected
  • Genetics: Higher risk if relatives have LBD/Parkinson’s

There are also various complications related to LBD. They include:

  • High risk of falling/injury
  • Parkinson’s symptoms like tremors
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Depression
  • Major dementia

LBD diagnosis is based on a low drop in one’s ability to think. There are other red flags including

Parkinson’s symptoms, unable heart-rate/blood pressure, changing body temperatures, visual hallucinations, REM sleep disorder, and changing levels of thinking/alertness.

These are all signs that a person might have LBD. This condition can be difficult to detect because no one test can diagnose the condition. Physicians diagnose people by the process of elimination of other causes of similar symptoms/signs.

There are different kinds of tests like mental/physical exams. The doctor might check for signs like Parkinson’s symptoms, tumors, strokes, and various other medical conditions. These can affect physical/brain function.

Brain tests might test certain things. It’s important to get the tests conducted to determine whether the patient indeed has LBD or another condition. It’s important to note that this condition can be similar to other conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Treatment for LBD can be difficult and especially since there’s no cure. However, you can receive different kinds of treatments. They include various kinds of medications. For example, patients might be prescribed Parkinson’s meds or others.

There are also various therapies LBD patients can receive. One approach includes changing the patient’s environment. It’s important to try and tolerate the person’s behavior, which can be difficult sometimes. However, it’s critical to understand their condition.

Another treatment is to make daily schedules and keep tasks easy. This can help the patient to focus on achieving success. It can also be less confusing if they have a structure in their daily lives to treat Lewy body dementia.

What is lewy body dementia

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