Dementia with Lewy bodies or DLB is one of the most common types of dementia with progressive cognitive decline. DLB has three distinct features about it that include: 1. Fluctuations in alertness and attention. This can include frequent drowsiness, periods of time spent staring into space, and unorganized speech. 2. Recurring visual hallucinations. 3. Parkinson’s disease like motor symptoms such as loss of spontaneous movement. People with DLB might also suffer from depression.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by the build-up of Lewy bodies, amassed bits of alpha-synuclein protein, inside the nuclei of neurons. The Lewy bodies accumulate in the parts of the brain that control aspects of memory and motor control. Researchers are yet to determine how the Lewy bodies cause the symptoms of DLB, but they do know that the build-up of alpha-synuclein is also linked to Parkinson’s disease and several other disorders.
There are many similarities between DLB and Parkinson’s as well as between DLB and Alzheimer’s disease. This can make it very difficult for a doctor to make a clear prognosis. Researchers believe that it is a possibility that one may have DLB and Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s simultaneously. Dementia with Lewy bodies usually occurs sporadically and in people with no family history of the disease.
Right now there is no cure for DLB and treatments tend to be aimed at controlling the symptoms of the disorder. Even though the symptoms can be treated, there is no known therapy that could stop or even slow the progression of DLB. The average survival length of time for someone diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy bodies is about eight years. There is current research being done by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and by other medical institutions that is related to DLB. Hopefully through this research scientists may find better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure disorders such as Dementia with Lewy Bodies.