One of the most apparent signs of Lewy Body Dementia is a decline in cognitive functions. This symptom most often presents itself as difficulty concentrating. The odd thing about LBD and concentration is that the person may have no trouble focusing on complex assignments.
Instead, simple tasks become very difficult to complete. The person may seem as though they stare into space multiple times a day and for minutes at a time. Along with this, they’re usually drowsy or lethargic.
As the name suggests, dementia is another symptom of LBD, but it goes beyond mental fog and distraction. It may not be noticeable at first, but it becomes more apparent as time goes on. Since it’s just part of aging, some people brush it off, but any memory loss should be investigated.
Lewy Body Dementia patients often forget words, long-practiced skills, and even family members’ names. The symptom presents itself similarly to Alzheimer’s disease. Confusion, poor attention, and visual-spatial problems often accompany memory loss.
As scary as it is, hallucinations are often the first clear symptom of Lewy Body Dementia. The hallucinations include seeing shapes, animals, and people who aren’t there. According to the Lewy Body Resource Center, 80% of people with LBD experience hallucinations early on. The illusions reoccur, as well.
This symptom isn’t just confined to sight, either. Some patients report other senses being affected, including sound, smell, and touch. Sound, smell, and touch hallucinations are much less common than visual.
One of the earlier symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia is mobility issues. It most commonly presents itself as trouble balancing and sometimes falling. According to The Lewy Body Society, around half of all people with LBD experience a “freezing” sensation when trying to move.
They may feel as though they are stuck to the floor. This feeling makes the patient unsteady and increases the risk of falling substantially. Turning around is a particularly difficult task for people with LBD cannot adjust and shift their weight easily.
Sleep disorders are extremely common in those with LBD and dementia disorders, in general. Insomnia is when someone has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up early. Since insomnia is such an issue, many patients also have difficulty staying awake throughout the day.
It isn’t odd for someone with LBD to take several naps during the day. They may sleep several hours during the day, mainly since sleeping at night is such a task. Establishing a routine is especially important to combat sleeping troubles.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorders
REM sleep behavior disorders are especially difficult to handle, especially for caregivers. This symptom is when patients act out their dreams during their sleep. This can result in moving limbs during REM sleep, sleep talking, or even getting up to do whatever they may do during the day.
Some patients can get violent when acting out their dreams, resulting in them screaming or hitting those around them. While acting out their dreams, the person with LBD is at increased risk of falling, so keeping an eye on anyone with this disorder is essential.
A very common symptom of Lewy Body Dementia is tremors. These tremors affect their movement and can also exacerbate balance issues. The tremors are similar to those who have Parkinson’s. In fact, the two conditions often develop together, making it difficult for doctors to diagnose the proper illness.
To differentiate between the two, doctors pay close attention to other symptoms. When tremors are associated with mental fog or confusion, which fluctuates day-to-day, this raises a red flag for LBD. An abnormal gait and rigid muscles may also accompany tremors.
People with Lewy Body Dementia are very sensitive to certain types of medications. Antipsychotic medications are the primary concern as they can aggravate tremors and other symptoms that can make day-to-day life very difficult.
Some other medications can affect their mind by causing them to have a worse mental fog or severe hallucinations. Because of the sensitivity to medications, many doctors are hesitant to prescribe medications. It also makes treatment a slow, complicated process.
Like Alzheimer’s disease, people with LBD commonly deal with depression and other mental disorders. Depression is likely linked to a drop in morale. Staying positive is hard when there are bouts of confusion with occasional periods of alertness.
Medications can be used to maintain a healthy mental state, but it can be hard to find the proper combination to achieve the desired results. Combined with medication sensitivity, doctors are cautious when approaching mood changes.
The autonomic system is responsible for regulating involuntary body functions, like our heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion. As LBD progresses, patients may experience problems with this system, including temperature and blood pressure regulation.
They may also experience constipation, urinary incontinence, and more. Things like low blood pressure are especially concerning as it increases the risk of dizziness and fainting when moving from sitting position to standing.