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What Is Lewy Body Dementia? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Lewy Body

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Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)  is the second most common type of progressive dementia. Protein deposits otherwise known as Lewy bodies develop in your nerve cells in the brain that affect your thinking, memory, and movement. 

When these Lewy bodies develop they quickly impact an individual’s mental abilities. 

It is common for people with LBD to have visual hallucinations and their alertness changes quickly. 

What causes Lewy Body Dementia?

What causes Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy Body Dementia occurs when you have an abnormal buildup of proteins in your nerve cells that surround your brain. Other than knowing what causes LBD, there is no specific reason that researchers have discovered as to why this happens in certain individuals. 

Risk Factors of LBD

There are three risk factors that increase your risk of developing LBD they include age, sex, and family history. 

Age- Once you are 60 you have an increased risk of developing Lewy Body Dementia. 

Sex- Studies show that men are more likely to develop LBD than women. 

Family History- If Lewy Body Dementia or Parkinsons runs in your family you are at a greater risk of developing LBD. 

Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

If you think you or a loved one has LBD there are several symptoms to look for. 

  • Hallucinations- Hallucinations is one of the first symptoms to appear or to be recognized  in individuals. This is when you see something that is not really there. You might see shapes, animals, or even people. It is possible that you might also hear sounds, smell things that don’t exist, or touch things that are not there. 
  • Movements- When you have LBD your movements slow drastically. You might move slower, have more rigid muscles, or develop a shuffling gait. You may also see things like
    • Muscle stiffness
    • Slow movements
    • Shuffle Walking
    • Tremors or shaking uncontrollably
    • Poor balance
    • Falling more often
    • Hunched posture
    • Lack of coordination
    • Handwriting decreasing in size 
    • Fewer facial expressions than before
    • Weak or tired voice
  • Changes in concentration and alertness- If you find yourself getting confused with your thoughts more and more or your ideas are disorganized this is a common symptom in most LBD patients. 
  • Sleep- Many Lewy Body Dementia patients have sleep disorders. Oftentimes these go undiagnosed. If you have REM sleep behavior disorder, sleep for more than 2 hours throughout the day, Insomnia, or have restless leg syndrome these are all symptoms that could be LBD. 
  • Behavior / Mood- Another symptom that occurs with Lewy Body syndrome is changes in your mood and behavior. This includes the following:
    • Becoming more depressed
    • Less of a desire to interact with others
    • Decreased interest in normal daily activities you used to enjoy. 
    • Becoming more agitated than normal
    • More anxious
    • Becoming more restless
    • More delusional. They become very adamant about things that have no evidence such as a spouse cheating or a loved one that is dead still being alive. 
    • Increased level of paranoia
  • Changes in Body Temperature
  • Blood Pressure Issues
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • More sensitive to hot and cold
  • Sexual Dysfunction 
  • Constipation
  • Bladder Leaks / Accidents

How Do You Diagnose Lewy Body Dementia?

How Do You Diagnose Lewy Body Dementia

Currently there is no test to confirm whether or not you have Lewy Body Dementia. If you think you or a loved one might have LBD you should make an appointment with your doctor. At that appointment your doctor might give you what is called a “clinical” diagnosis which means that the doctor will use his or her best judgment to confirm that you have LBD. 

A postmortem autopsy is the only way to conclusively diagnose LBD. 

What happens when you are diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia?

Lewy Body Dementia gets worse overtime. At first you might have mild symptoms that progressively increase and get worse. As this occurs it could lead to:

  • A more aggressive behavior
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of falling
  • Severe memory loss / dementia
  • Death

How Do You Treat Lewy Body Dementia?

How do you Treat Lewy Body Dementia

When you are diagnosed with LBD there, is no cure or treatments that can stop the damage that LBD is causing in the brain. The only thing that can be done is to help manage the current symptoms. Through physical and occupational therapy it can help individuals who suffer Lewy Body Syndrome to help with physical symptoms they have. 

Medication- A Lewy Body Treatment Plan can include medicine. If this is included in your plan, it is best to work closely with your medical professional to find an effective medication that works best to help with your current symptoms. 

Physical, Speech, Occupational Therapist- Working with a therapist can help you overcome some of the frustrations you are feeling with Lewy Body Dementia. They can help you find new ways to do things that can be helpful. 

Counseling– When you or a loved one are diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and live in the state of Texas, you can schedule a consultation with me Your Dementia Therapist. I work with caregivers and family members to develop a plan to help better manage LBD.

Support Groups- Finding a support group especially if you have a family member that has Lewy Body Dementia can be a great support. They can help you  better cope with some of the day to day struggles along with providing the social and emotional support you may need.

What is the life expectancy of someone with Lewy Body Dementia?

Once you or a loved one are diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), people typically survive on average 5 to 7 years. 

Does Lewy Body Dementia run in Families?

It is said that 10% of LBD cases are linked to heredity. The person inherits it from either of their parents. Once a family member is diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia there is a much higher risk for other family members to also be diagnosed with it as well. 

If you feel you or a loved one has Lewy Body Dementia it is best to schedule an appointment with your health care provider to discuss your symptoms and treatment options that are best for you.

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