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EARLY STAGES

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) can affect thinking and memory,  vision and movements of affected people. It can present differently in different people.  Symptoms can be mild in the beginning and tend to progress over time. In the early stages it can be difficult to make the diagnosis of DLB and people can be diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease.

Cognitive symptoms

DLB affects cognitive functions, predominantly attention, alertness and visualprocessing . People with DLB may be slower to respond, forgetful and struggle with judging distances, planning and organising. Day to day memory is also affected but less so than in patients with Alzheimer's disease. An important feature of DLB is that these cognitive problems fluctuate. People with DLB can have good and bad days or hours. These fluctuations can be unpredictable.

Visual hallucinations

Another symptom that people with DLB frequently experience is visual hallucinations. That is seeing things that are not really there. These can range from mistaking a coat for a person, to seeing detailed forms of people or animals. They seem real to the person with DLB and can sometimes be distressing. People with DLB can sometimes  experience delusions which means that they believe ideas which are not true.

Motor symptoms

Many people with DLB will  experience problems with their movements, similar to those of Parkinson's disease. These are called motor symptoms: their movements may be slower or stiff, their expression can be blank, they may have shaking of their limbs and may be more prone to falls.

Other symptoms

People with DLB may also have problems with sleep. This can happen years before other problems develop. The most common sleep problem is people having vivid dreams and acting out their dreams. This is called REM sleep behaviour disorder. If this disturbs other members of the family, there are treatments that can be tried to calm these symptoms.

People with DLB can also lose their sense of smell or experience constipation, dizziness  or urinary incontinence.