Lewy body dementia, also referred to as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the 2nd most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, establish in nerve cells in the brain regions associated with thinking, memory and motion (motor control).
Lewy body dementia causes a progressive decrease in mental abilities. Individuals with Lewy body dementia might experience visual hallucinations, and changes in alertness and attention. Other results include Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms such as rigid muscles, slow movement and tremblings.
Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia Disease
Lewy body dementia symptoms and signs might include:
- Visual hallucinations. Hallucinations may be one of the first symptoms, and they frequently repeat. They might include seeing shapes, animals or individuals that aren’t there. Noise (auditory), smell (olfactory) or touch (tactile) hallucinations are possible.
- Movement conditions. Signs of Parkinson’s disease (parkinsonian symptoms), such as slowed movement, rigid muscles, tremor or a shuffling walk might take place.
- Poor regulation of body functions (autonomic nervous system). Blood pressure, pulse, sweating and the digestive procedure are managed by a part of the nervous system that is often impacted by Lewy body dementia. This can lead to dizziness, falls and bowel issues such as constipation.
- Cognitive problems. You may experience thinking (cognitive) problems similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, such as confusion, poor attention, visual-spatial problems and amnesia.
- Sleep problems. You may have rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior condition, which can cause you to physically act out your dreams while you’re asleep.
- Changing attention. Episodes of sleepiness, long periods of looking into space, long naps during the day or chaotic speech are possible.
- Depression. You might experience depression at some point during the course of your illness.
- Passiveness. You might have loss of motivation.
Causes of Lewy Body Dementia Disease
Lewy body dementia is characterized by the abnormal buildup of proteins into masses called Lewy bodies. This protein is also associated with Parkinson’s disease. People who have Lewy bodies in their brains also have the plaques and tangles connected with Alzheimer’s disease.
Risk factors of Lewy Body Dementia Disease
A few aspects seem to increase the risk of establishing Lewy body dementia, consisting of:
- Being older than 60.
- Being male.
- Having a member of the family with Lewy body dementia or Parkinson’s disease.
Research has shown that depression is likewise connected with Lewy body dementia.
Lewy body dementia is progressive. Symptoms and signs aggravate, triggering:
- Severe dementia.
- Aggressive habits.
- Increased risk of falling and injury.
- Worsening of parkinsonian symptoms, such as tremors.
- Death, on average about eight years after symptoms begin.
Diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia Disease
A diagnosis of Lewy body dementia requires a progressive decline in your capability to believe, along with two of the following:
- Fluctuating awareness and thinking (cognitive) function.
- Repetitive visual hallucinations.
- Parkinsonian symptoms.
Several of the following features support a Lewy body dementia diagnosis:
- Rapid Eye Movement behavior disorder, where individuals act out their dreams during sleep.
- Free dysfunction, which includes instability in blood pressure and heart rate, poor policy of body temperature level, sweating, and associated symptoms.
No single test can identify Lewy body dementia. Rather, doctors identify your condition through ruling out other conditions that may cause similar signs and symptoms. Tests may include:
Neurological and physical exam
Your doctor may look for signs of Parkinson’s disease, strokes, growths or other medical conditions that can impact the brain and physical function. The neurological examination might test:
- Muscle tone.
- Eye motions.
- Sense of touch.
Assessment of mental abilities
A brief kind of this test, which evaluates your memory and thinking abilities, can be done in less than 10 minutes in your doctor’s office. It’s not normally helpful in differentiating Lewy body dementia from Alzheimer’s disease but can indicate dementia. Longer tests can take several hours, but help recognize Lewy body dementia.
Your doctor will compare your test results with those of people from a similar age and education level. This can help identify typical from unusual cognitive aging, and may help detect the condition.
These can dismiss physical problems that can affect brain function, such as vitamin B-12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid gland.
Your doctor might order an MRI, PET or CT scan to recognize a stroke or bleeding, and to rule out the possibility of a growth. While dementias are detected based upon the history and health examination, particular features on imaging studies can recommend various types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s or Lewy body dementia.
Your doctor may order a sleep assessment to look for REM sleep behavior condition or an autonomic function test to search for signs of heart rate and blood pressure instability.
Treatment of Lewy Body Dementia Disease
Treatment can be tough, and there’s no treatment for Lewy body dementia. Medical professionals treat the specific symptoms.
The use of neuroleptics in the treatment of lewy body dementia
- Cholinesterase inhibitors. These Alzheimer’s disease medications, such as rivastigmine (Exelon), work by increasing the levels of chemical messengers believed to be essential for memory, believed and judgment (neurotransmitters) in the brain. This can help improve alertness and cognition, and might help in reducing hallucinations and other behavioral problems. Possible side effects might include intestinal upset, extreme salivation and tearing, and frequent urination. These are not FDA approved for Lewy body dementia.
- Parkinson’s disease medications. These medications, such as carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet) might help reduce parkinsonian symptoms, such as stiff muscles and sluggish movement. Nevertheless, these medications may also increase confusion, hallucinations and misconceptions.
- Medications to treat other symptoms. Your doctor may recommend medications to treat other symptoms connected with Lewy body dementia, such as sleep or motion problems.
If possible, avoid medications with anticholinergic properties, which can aggravate cognition or dopamine agonists, which can cause hallucinations.
First-generation antipsychotic medications, such as haloperidol (Haldol), should not be used to treat Lewy body dementia. They may cause severe confusion, severe Parkinsonism, sedation and sometimes even death. Very hardly ever, specific second-generation antipsychotics might be recommended for a brief time at a low dosage but just if the advantages outweigh the risks.
Because antipsychotic drugs can aggravate Lewy body dementia symptoms, it might be practical to initially try nondrug approaches, such as:
- Tolerating the habits. Often times an individual with Lewy body dementia isn’t distressed by the hallucinations. In these cases, the side effects of medication may be even worse than the hallucinations themselves.
- Customizing the environment. Reducing clutter and distracting noise can make it much easier for somebody with dementia to operate.
- Offering relaxing reactions. A caretaker’s response may get worse behavior. Avoid remedying and quizzing an individual with dementia. Offer peace of mind and recognition of his/her issues.
- Producing day-to-day regimens and keeping jobs easy. Break jobs into much easier steps and concentrate on successes, not failures. Structure and routine during the day can be less complicated.
Alternative Treatment for Lewy Body Dementia
Frustration and anxiety can intensify dementia symptoms. These methods might help promote relaxation:
- Family pet therapy, which involves the use of animals to enhance state of minds and behaviors in dementia patients.
- Aromatherapy, which uses fragrant plant oils.
- Massage therapy.