What are Lewy bodies?
Lewy bodies are also found in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological disease that affects movement. Researchers have yet to understand fully why Lewy bodies occur in the brain and how they cause damage. Their presence in the brain disrupts the brain's normal functioning, interrupting the action of important chemical messengers, including acetylcholine and dopamine. Many people who are initially diagnosed with Parkinson's disease later go on to develop a dementia that closely resembles DLB Lewy bodies, named after the doctor who first identified them in 1912, are tiny, spherical protein deposits found in nerve cells.
What are the symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies?Dementia with Lewy bodies is a progressive disease. This means that over time the symptoms will become worse. In general, DLB progresses at about the same rate as Alzheimer's disease, typically over several years.
- A person with DLB will usually have some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
- They may experience problems with attention and alertness, often have spatial disorientation and experience difficulty with 'executive function', which includes difficulty in planning ahead and co-ordinating mental activities. Although memory is often affected, it is typically less so than in Alzheimer's disease.
- They may also develop the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, including 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.
- experience detailed and convincing visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not there), often of people or animals
- find that their abilities fluctuate daily, or even hourly
- fall asleep very easily by day, and have restless, disturbed nights with confusion, nightmares and hallucinations
- faint, fall, or have 'funny turns'.