The symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia
Diagnosing LBD can be challenging for a number of reasons. Early LBD symptoms are often confused with similar symptoms found in other brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Also, LBD can occur alone or along with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. There are two types of LBD—dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia. The earliest signs of these two diseases differ but reflect the same biological changes in the brain. Over time, people with dementia with Lewy bodies or Parkinson’s disease dementia may develop similar symptoms.
LBD typically begins at age 50 or older, although sometimes younger people have it. LBD is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms start slowly and worsen over time. The disease lasts an average of 5 to 7 years from the time of diagnosis to death. In the early stages of LBD, usually before a diagnosis is made, symptoms can be mild, and people can function fairly normally. As the disease advances, people with LBD require more and more help due to a decline in thinking and movement abilities. In the later stages of the disease, they may depend entirely on others for assistance and care.
- Hard to concentrate
A significant decline and variation in the powers of concentration… One day it seems as though their concentration is good and a short while later you find them unable to concentrate on tasks or subjects.
- Loss of memory
This classic aspect of dementia is a prominent feature of LBD, but it might not be obvious from the beginning, but it becomes very apparent at the later stages. While a decline in memory is far from unusual… if they have LBD, these memory failings reach another dimension. For example, you might find someone with this illness starts to forget words.
Loss of memory is only one aspect of confusion that leads to the patient losing the ability to relate realistically to their surroundings. They now find it very hard to solve simple problems and make the countless decisions we need to make each day. With LBD periods of confusion and alertness come and go, so it becomes very challenging to deal with this patient.
- 4. Changes in the way they walk
If you notice your elderly relative starting to shake uncontrollably or experiencing other limb tremors, if their movement has markedly slowed down, or if they start to shuffle as they walk, you most probably imagine they might have developed Parkinson’s disease. It is very difficult to know for sure if this is a case of Parkinson’s or LBD due to the shared symptoms. The fact that some Parkinson’s disease patients develop dementia that is very close to LBD makes it even harder to know you have the correct diagnosis.
- Disturbances to sleep patterns
Doctors have identified a phenomenon they call REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD) as one of the advanced warning signs of LBD. Patients make unusual movements and maybe speak during their sleep. They also often become very confused between what they see in their dreams and the real world they encounter when they wake up. Researchers note that the majority of people who experience RBD develop degenerative illnesses a decade or so following on from the RBD diagnosis. The defect in the brain that produced RBD also serves as a trigger for dementia-type diseases.
- 6. Suffering from hallucinations
Visual hallucinations or visions are a common LBD symptom. These usually occur at times when the patient is most confused. They could include loss of direction, failures in proper depth perception or even becoming detached from reality in the areas of taste and touch or sound. It is important first to rule out that these symptoms are a side effect of medications the patient is taking.
- 7. Rapid changes in symptoms
One of the characteristics of LBD is a large number of possible symptoms and the way they can change rapidly. In the initial stages of LBD, some patients experience no obvious symptoms. When symptoms do start to become evident, they can vary from day to day or even hourly. Thus, you find that at 10:00 in the morning the patient sits reading with good concentration, but at 11:00 you find him unable to focus on this reading material. Even from one minute to the next you can notice dramatic changes in the patient’s demeanour.
- Loss of balance
Although it is common for seniors to lose their balance … with LBD they are much more likely to faint and fall. A decline in their abilities to consistently judge distances and depths correctly is one of the main factors that make them much more likely to stumble. Their falls frequently bring on additional medical complications.
- High sensitivity to certain drugs
People with LBD become very sensitive to antipsychotic medications. These drugs easily aggravate their tremors and other symptoms that resemble Parkinson’s disease. They also sometimes cause further deterioration in their mental abilities and may bring on additional hallucinations… the right choice of medicines is a major challenge.
- Depressed and aggressive
In common with many Alzheimer disease patients, sufferers from LBD often become depressed and may become aggressive. It is not difficult to understand how their bouts of confusion alternating with periods of alertness affect them in this way. Medications for depression can sometimes bring a measure of relief and thus make it easier to care for the patients.
The Source of this article is Hayley – Health Team 30/10/17 (HEALTH.FACTY.COM)
Article By Henry Spencer