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Lewy Body Dementia: Symptoms, Causes, Tests, Treatments, Therapies

Published: 2015-11-05 - Updated: 2018-07-28
Author: Thomas C. Weiss | Contact: Disabled World (

Synopsis: General overview of Lewy body dementia, a disease that causes decline in mental abilities and visual hallucinations.

Main Digest

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD): Also known as Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), diffuse Lewy body disease, cortical Lewy body disease, and senile dementia of Lewy type, is defined as a type of dementia closely associated with Parkinson's disease. LBD's primary feature is cognitive decline, which can lead to hallucinations, as well as varied attention and alertness.


Lewy body dementia is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer's disease and causes a progressive decline in a person's mental abilities. It might also cause visual hallucinations, which usually take the form of people, objects, or animals that are not there. The hallucinations may lead to behavior such as having a conversations with a deceased loved one, for example.

Another indicator of Lewy body dementia may be significant fluctuations in both attention and alertness, which might include daytime drowsiness or periods of staring into space. As with Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia may result in slowed movement, rigid muscles and tremors. In Lewy body dementia, protein deposits called, 'Lewy bodies,' develop in nerve cells in regions of a person's brain involved with thinking, movement and memory.


Lewy body dementia signs and symptoms include visual hallucinations. The affected person might see visual hallucinations such as shapes, colors, people or animals that are not there. The hallucinations might be one of the first symptoms of Lewy body dementia. Some people also may experience auditory, olfactory, or tactile hallucinations. Additional symptoms include the following.


The cause of Lewy body dementia remains an unknown, although the disorder might be related to Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's. Lewy bodies contain a protein associated with Parkinson's disease. Lewy bodies are often times present in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. People who have Lewy bodies in their brains also have plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease.

While the cause of Lewy body dementia is not clear, some different factors seem to increase a person's risk of developing the disease. The risk factors include being male, being over the age of sixty, as well as having a family member with Lewy body dementia. Lewy body dementia is progressive, the signs and symptoms worsen and cause severe dementia and death - on average around eight years after onset of the condition.

Testing and Diagnosis

In order for a person to be diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, they must have experienced a progressive decline in their ability to think, as well as two of the following:

In addition, one or more of the following features are considered to be supportive of a diagnosis of Lewy body dementia:

No one test can diagnose Lewy body dementia.

Instead, doctors diagnose the condition by ruling out other conditions that might cause similar signs and symptoms. There are a number of tests for the condition, which are spelled out below.

Treatment and Drugs

Treating Lewy body dementia can be very challenging. There is no cure for it. Instead, doctors treat the individual symptoms an affected person is experiencing. Medications are available to help and include the following.

A doctor may prescribe medications to treat other symptoms associated with Lewy body dementia, such as movement or sleep issues.


Due to the fact that antipsychotic medications may worsen Lewy body dementia symptoms, it may be helpful to initially try non-medication approaches. These approaches include the following.

Quick Facts:


LBD affects more than 1 million individuals in the United States.

An estimated 60 to 75% of diagnosed dementias are of the Alzheimer's and mixed (Alzheimer's and vascular dementia) type, 10 to 15% are Lewy body type, with the remaining types being of an entire spectrum of dementias, including frontotemporal lobar degeneration (Picks Disease), alcoholic dementia, pure vascular dementia, etc.

LBD is slightly more prevalent in males than females.

Author Credentials:

Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.

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Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2015, November 5). Lewy Body Dementia: Symptoms, Causes, Tests, Treatments, Therapies. Disabled World. Retrieved September 26, 2021 from