What is dementia with lewy bodies?

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is a type of dementia closely associated with both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. It accounts for around ten per cent of all cases of dementia in older people and tends to be under diagnosed. Lewy bodies are tiny, spherical protein deposits found in nerve cells. Their presence in the brain disrupts the brain's normal functioning, interrupting the action of important chemical messengers, including acetylcholine and dopamine.

Patients with DLB have similar symptoms as those with Alzheimer’s (such as memory lapses, difficulty performing common tasks, misusing terms or a disruption in language skills, and easily becoming disoriented), but will also have other symptoms unique to DLB such as:

  • Parkinson’s like symptoms (slowness, muscle stiffness, trembling of the limbs, a tendency to shuffle when walking, loss of facial expression, and changes in the strength and tone of the voice)
  • detailed and convincing visual hallucinations
  • abilities that fluctuate daily (or even hourly)
  • fall asleep very easily by day, and have restless, disturbed nights with confusion, nightmares and hallucinations
  • fainting or falling

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