Lewy Body Dementia is a form of progressive dementia that is actually one of the more common types of dementia. This form of dementia largely involves proteins. Lewy bodies themselves are actually abnormal protein deposits that grow in the brain’s nerve cells and then attack the certain areas involved in things such as memory and how we think. This process causes a significant decrease in the brains mental abilities. The proteins that are involved in Lewy Body Dementia are called Alpha- Synuclein proteins. In neurons these proteins are key in the role of communication so brain cells can communicate with one another. Lewy Body Dementia is caused by a pile up of these proteins. When these Alpha-Synuclein proteins clump together inside the neuron, they cause the neuron to function improperly until the neuron eventually dies.
Diagnosing Lewy Body Dementia can be slightly difficult as it is easily confused with other forms of Dementia and Alzheimers. In order to diagnose Lewy Body, the patient must be experiencing a decline in mental capabilities progressively. According to the Mayo Clinic “in addition to this decline, two of the following must be present; fluctuating and unpredictable alertness and thinking, repeated visual hallucinations, parkinsonian symptoms, or REM sleep behavior disorder, in which people act out their dreams during sleep”. There are also several other ways to diagnose Lewy Body Dementia such as testing. Specific tests include testing for biomarkers, sleep studies, and nuclear imaging tests. Other ways to test include a combination of neurological and physical examinations that checks for things such as reflexes or ones balance, along with blood tests and brain scans.
There are many symptoms to watch out for if you believe you or a loved one may have Lewy Body dementia. A few of these include; loss of desire, consistent sadness or depression, feeling sleepy all the time, as well as problems sleeping due to troubles with REM sleep. Other symptoms might include; feeling constantly trapped in a state of confusion, having trouble focusing on any given subject, and problems remembering very similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Lewy body dementia also attacks the autonomic nervous system so symptoms regarding that aspect include perspiring profusely and getting dizzy regularly. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hallucinations may be one of the first symptoms and they often re-occur. They may include seeing shapes, animals or people that aren’t there”. It is important to remember that a person with Lewy body may not have all of the above symptoms but rather only a few of them. Some symptoms might be more harsh in some individuals and others more mild, it really differs from person to person.
When talking about who is most greatly impacted by Lewy Body Dementia it is important to remember that this disease progresses over the course of time. Meaning, the disease will start out very slowly and speed up over the course of a few years. At the start, it is pretty easy to function normally and perform everyday tasks and operations. It isn’t till later in the disease that the patient starts to require assistance when it comes to performing tasks we may deem simple because of slow deterioration of the patients thought processes. Unfortunately, by the end of the patients fight with Lewy Body Dementia, they are almost completely dependent on their family or loved ones to take responsibility for them and their daily care. According to the National Institute of Health “LBD affects more than 1 million individuals in the United States”, and most largely impacts males and females over the age of 60. There have been a larger amount of males recorded with the disease over the course of history than females. Another group of people who is more likely to be impacted by Lewy Body Dementia are people with loved ones who have or have had the disease. Having people in the family with it, largely increases the possibility of having it yourself in the future.
Lewy Body Dementia is separated into stages. These stages are known as the early stage, middle stage, and the later stage. In the early stage is where you’ll find the hallucinations, trouble sleeping, and even difficulties with movement. But believe it or not in this early stage the memory aspect of things is still pretty unharmed. In the middle stages all components are more harshly affected. According to Very Well Health, such things include “increased impairment of the body’s motor functions and falls, difficulty with speech, impaired ability to swallow and increased paranoia and delusions.” Along with these symptoms other aspects impacted in this stage include a significant increase in confusion and ability to pay attention for any periods of time. In the last and later stage of Lewy Body Dementia, almost everything is cognitively impaired and motor skills are extremely poor. Things like speaking problems arise and worsen, muscles become firm causing poor motor movement, and by this point in time the person is almost completely dependent on a caretaker to help perform daily activities. Another huge problem people face in the later stage of Lewy Body Dementia is they become extremely vulnerable to disease because they are so weak. This can shorten the lifespan of somebody with the disease significantly if infection occurs.
When it comes to treatment
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