Lewy Body Dementia: Some Causes, Symptoms & Risk Factors

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Lewy body dementia

This type of dementia is also called dementia with Lewy bodies. This is the second most frequent type of continuous dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Protein deposits, known by the term Lewy bodies in the medical world, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions which are involved in thinking, memory, and movement (motor control). This disease is causing a progressive decline in mental abilities.

Lewy Body Dementia: Some Causes, Symptoms & Risk Factors
Progression of Lewy Body Dementia

People, who suffer from Lewy body dementia, may experience visual hallucinations and changes in alertness and attention. Other effects are including Parkinson’s disease-like signs and symptoms, such as tremors, slow movement, and rigid muscles.

Symptoms:

Some signs and symptoms of Lewy body dementia include:

Apathy:

You can have a loss of motivation.

Depression:

During the course of your illness, you may experience depression.

Fluctuating attention:

It is possible to have disorganized speech, long naps during the day, long periods of staring into space, and episodes of drowsiness.

Sleep difficulties:

When you suffer from Lewy body dementia, you can have REM (rapid eye movement) sleep behavior disorder and this can cause you physically to act out dreams while you sleep.

Cognitive problems:

You can experience thinking (cognitive) problems that are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory loss, visual-spatial problems, poor attention, and confusion.

Poor regulation of body functions (known as autonomic nervous system):

Sweating, pulse and blood pressure, and the digestive processes are regulated by a part of the nervous system which is often affected by Lewy body dementia. This could result in falls, dizziness, and bowel issues like constipation.

Movement disorders:

A shuffling, tremor, rigid muscles, or slow movement, which is a sign of Parkinson’s disease may happen. Also, this can result in falls.

Visual hallucinations:

One of the first symptoms of Lewy body dementia is hallucinations and often recur. They can include seeing people, animals, or shapes that are not there. Also, touch (tactile), smell (olfactory), and sound (auditory) hallucinations are possible.

Causes:

This disease is characterized by the abnormal buildup of proteins into masses, which are known as Lewy bodies. Also, this protein is associated with Parkinson’s disease. It is noticed that people who are having Lewy bodies in their brains also have plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Types:

There are two known types of this disease – dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia. Both types of Lewy body dementia cause the same changes in the brain. As time passes, they can cause similar symptoms. The main difference is when the cognitive (also known as thinking) and movement symptoms start. Dementia with Lewy body dementia is causing problems with ability that seem similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

In the later stages, it also causes other symptoms, such as certain sleep disorders, visual hallucinations, and movement symptoms. Also, it can cause more trouble with mental activities than with memory. Parkinson’s disease dementia is starting as a movement disorder. First, it causes symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as a shuffling walk, tremor, muscle stiffness, and slowed movement. In the later stages, this disease is causing dementia.

Risk factors:

Some factors seem to increase the risk of developing Lewy body dementia, such as

  • Family history: Those people who have a family member with Parkinson’s disease or Lewy body dementia have a greater risk of getting this disease.
  • Sex: It is noticed that Lewy body dementia affects men more than women.
  • Age: Those people who are older than 60 have an increased risk of getting Lewy body dementia.

Complications:

It is known that Lewy body dementia is a progressive disease. The signs and symptoms of this condition can worsen and they can cause:

  • Death, which is usually happening on average about eight years after symptoms start
  • Certain worsenings of parkinsonian signs and symptoms, such as tremors
  • Increased risk of falling and injury
  • Depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Severe dementia

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