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Dementia With Lewy Bodies (cont.)

Dementia With Lewy Bodies Symptoms

Symptoms vary from person to person with DLB. The one characteristic common to everyone with DLB is progressive loss of mental abilities that interferes with everyday activities. This may include the following:

  • Loss of recent memory

  • Inability to concentrate or pay attention

  • Difficulty thinking, reasoning, solving problems

  • Misperceptions of space and time
 
Mental function usually varies in DLB, getting better and worse over time. Although the sharpness of our mental function varies in everyone - we all have our good moments and bad moments, or are "morning" persons or "evening" persons - this fluctuation is especially dramatic in DLB. This is especially true of alertness and attention. A person with DLB typically has periods of being alert, coherent, and oriented that alternate with periods of being confused and less responsive. This usually is considered more characteristic of DLB than of other types of dementia. Other symptoms include the following:
  • Abnormal movements of Parkinson's disease (shuffling gait, tremor, muscle stiffness)

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Depression

  • Nonvisual hallucinations (hearing, smell, touch)

  • Delusions

  • Agitation

  • Unexplained fainting

  • Sensitivity to "neuroleptic" drugs given to control hallucinations and delusions
 
None of these symptoms are unique to DLB or definitively point to DLB as a diagnosis. In fact, people with DLB often are very difficult to distinguish from those with Alzheimer's disease. People with DLB, however, often develop both Alzheimer's symptoms and Parkinson's symptoms within 1 year of each other.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dementia With Lewy Bodies »

Frederick Lewy first described Lewy bodies (LBs), cytoplasmic inclusions found in cells of the substantia nigra in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease, in 1914.

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