Dementia with Lewy bodies, or DLB, is a neurological disease that mainly affects thinking and movement.
DLB is the same as Lewy body disease or Lewy body dementia.
What are the symptoms?
Persons with DLB typically have a mix of three major symptoms, in addition to any thinking problem.
- symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as slowness of movement, stiffness in the
arms and legs, shuffling walk, and a reduction in facial expressions (“a poker face”)
- visual hallucinations, where their mind plays a trick on them and persons may see objects, people, or things that are not there
- fluctuations, where people are at their usual state (as if they did not have a problem) and then shift to a state of either sleepiness without reason or confusion and then go back to their usual state
What causes DLB?
We do not know what causes DLB. We do know that DLB is not Alzheimer’s disease, even though the two disorder share similar characteristics. We also know (by studying the brains of persons with DLB at autopsies), that the nerve cells develop abnormal round structures called “Lewy bodies” – the same structures seen in the brain nerve cells of persons with typical Parkinson’s disease.
Are there are treatments?
No. However, drug treatments using some of the Alzheimer disease medications may be effective in helping the thinking problems. If walking and stiffness become a major problem, then treatment with one of the Parkinson’s medications may also be helpful.
Are there safety concerns?
As with many disorders that affect thinking, safety concerns include medication safety, bills, legal documents, cooking, and driving. But with DLB there are other safety issues around the problems with walking, falls and loss of balance.
In addition, persons with DLB become sensitive to an older class of medications called typical antipsychotics, such as haloperidol. They should avoid this medication.
In the U.K., check into lewybody.org.