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What is Lewy body dementia? How does it happen? Who does it effect? You can find out more information about this second most common type of dementia by reading further.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the second most common form of gradual dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the first. It causes a continual and progressive decline in mental and cognitive functioning and abilities. LBD can also bring on hallucinations that will generally take on the form of objects, animals or people that aren’t there. These hallucinations could lead the sufferer to have imaginary conversations with deceased loved ones.

Another indicator of LBD is a substantial variation in awareness and attention span. People with Lewy body dementia could have decreased daytime alertness and periods of staring off into space. LBD could also result in similarities that would be common in Parkinson’s and these include stiffening of the muscles, reduced or slowed movements and tremors and/or shaking.

With dementia with Lewy bodies, protein deposits will develop in nerve cells in the region of the brain that are involved in thinking, memory and fine motor control.

Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia

The signs and symptoms associated with this disease may include the following things:

  • Depression: Depression can be experienced at any time during the course of this disease.
  • Fluctuating attention: An individual may have frequent episodes of drowsiness, long periods of staring off into space, long naps during the day and slurry, disorganized speech.
  • Sleeping disturbances: A person could have a sleep disorder called rapid eye movement (REM), which is a sleeping behavioral disorder that may cause acting out during dreams.
  • Cognitive issues: The cognitive issues related to LBD can involve thinking problems similar to what a person would experience with Alzheimer’s disease, such as confusion, reduced attention span and eventual memory loss.
  • Visual hallucinations: It’s possible that a person with LBD could have hallucinations and see colors, shapes, animals or people that aren’t really there. Additionally, this could be the first symptom of the disease and some people may experience auditory, tactile or olfactory hallucinations as well.
  • Movement disorders: It’s possible to experience symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease like slowed movements, stiff muscles, shaking and/or a shuffling gait.
  • Poor regulation of bodily functions: The nervous system controls blood pressure, pulse, sweating and the digestive process and all of these can be affected by Lewy body dementia. It can cause a person to fall, experience dizziness and lose control over bowel and bladder functions.

Causes

The precise cause of Lewy body dementia is unknown, but it is felt it might be related to Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Lewy bodies contain a protein that is associated with Parkinson’s disease. These bodies are also found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other dementias. People who have Lewy bodies in their brains also have the tangles and plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.

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  • By Jensflorian (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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