Symptoms | Lewy Body Dementia Association LBDA

Symptoms

Each person with LBD is different in terms of which symptoms they have in the beginning. The most common symptoms include changes in thinking, behavior, movement, and sleep. 

  • Dementia refers to a significant decline in thinking ability. With LBD it affects memory, decision making, problem solving, planning, and abstract or analytical thinking.
  • Cognitive fluctuations involve unpredictable changes in concentration, alertness or attention.
  • Parkinson’s-like symptoms include slowness of movement, rigidity or stiffness, shuffling gait, tremors, and balance problems. 
  • Behavioral changes include hallucinations, delusions or changes in mood.
    • Hallucinations are seeing or hearing things that are not really present and can occur in other senses like hearing, touch and smell. If the hallucinations are not disruptive, they may not need to be treated. However, if they are frightening or create challenging behavioral changes, your physician may recommend treatment.
    • Delusions (false beliefs) and paranoia (unwarranted suspicions) can occur, sometimes alone or in response to threatening hallucinations.
    • Changes in mood, including depression, anxiety, and apathy, are extremely common in LBD and may significantly affect your quality of life. Your doctor may recommend treating depression with certain classes of antidepressants.
  • Sleep disorders include REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), excessive daytime sleepiness, temporary loss of consciousness with difficulties wakening, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome. These sleep problems can be subtle and hard to diagnose. Evaluation by a sleep specialist can help identify and treat these issues. RBD involves acting out dreams and may result in injuries from hitting bed partners or falling out of bed. Symptoms of RBD may appear years before any of the other symptoms of LBD. 
  • Autonomic symptoms are common in LBD. The autonomic nervous system controls many involuntary functions. Problems with temperature and blood pressure regulation can occur, as well as constipation, urinary incontinence, and sexual dysfunction. Low blood pressure can cause dizziness and fainting when a person stands from a sitting or lying position too quickly.

LBD Diagnostic Symptoms Checklist 

LBDA developed a useful checklist to help physicians and their patients identify key LBD symptoms used to make a diagnosis. This publication features a patient-friendly symptom checklist on the first page and the physician-oriented diagnostic criteria on the second. 

This resource can be completed in advance by those who may have symptoms of LBD and provided to their doctors at their next office visit. It can also be handed out by healthcare professionals for their patients to complete at an office visit.

Download the LBD Diagnostic Symptoms Checklist