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Symptoms - Dementia with Lewy bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) causes problems with mental abilities and some other difficulties.

The symptoms tend to come on gradually. They get slowly worse over several years, but treatment can help.

Problems with mental abilities

As with other types of dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies causes problems with:

  • thinking speed
  • understanding
  • judgement
  • visual perception (making sense of what your eyes see)
  • language
  • memory (but significant memory loss may not happen until later on)

These problems may be constant but typically come and go.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies help distinguish it from other types of dementia, such as:

  • hallucinations (seeing or sometimes hearing things that are not there - these can range from pleasant to distressing)
  • changing between alertness and confusion or sleepiness - this can happen unexpectedly and change over minutes or hours
  • slow movement, stiff limbs, tremors and shuffling when walking – like Parkinson's disease
  • fainting, unsteadiness and falls
  • disturbed sleep – this could be talking in your sleep, acting out dreams or sleepiness during the day
  • difficulty swallowing
  • depression

Daily activities become increasingly difficult. There may be further health problems, such as an injury after a fall or a chest infection caused by accidentally inhaling food.

When to see your GP

See your GP if you think you have early symptoms of dementia.

If you're worried about someone else, encourage them to see their GP. You could suggest that you go with them.

The GP can do some simple checks to try to find out the cause of your symptoms. They may refer you to a specialist for further tests.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 26 August 2021
Next review due: 26 August 2024