Lewy Body Dementia Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
In the early 1900s, while researching Parkinson's disease, neurobiologist Fredrick Lewy discovered how abnormal protein deposits can develop in the nerve cells in the brain to disrupt the brain's normal functioning. This condition would later become the second most common form of progressive dementia, second only to Alzheimer's disease , and would bear its discoverer's name.
Lewy body dementia, also referred to as dementia with Lewy bodies, which is known to cause problems with memory, movement, thinking, skills, mood and behavior, may trigger its afflicted to experience visual hallucinations, changes in alertness and attention as well as symptoms consistent with Parkinson's disease , such as rigid muscles, slow movements and tremors.
To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Santa Monica that specializes in Lewy body dementia treatment, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
Lewy Body Dementia Causes
Lewy body dementia causes a protein called alpha-synuclein to build up in the nerve cells of your brain, inhibiting your brain's ability to sufficiently produce important chemicals like acetylcholine (necessary for memory) and dopamine (necessary for regulating mood, movement and sleep). Scientists aren't sure why Lewy bodies begin to build up in the brain, nor are they sure why some people develop Lewy body dementia while others don't. Certain underlying health conditions increase your risk of developing the condition, such as Parkinson's disease or REM sleep behavior disorder.
Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms
Common symptoms of Lewy body dementia include:
- Cognitive problems, similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, such as confusion, poor attention, visual-spatial problems and memory loss may occur.
- Visual hallucinations, including seeing shapes, animals or people that aren’t there, while sounds (auditory), smell (olfactory) or touch (tactile) hallucinations may also occur.
- Movement disorders, consistent with Parkinson’s disease, such as slowed movement, rigid muscles, tremor or shuffling walk may occur.
- Poor regulation of bodily functions (automatic nervous system), such as blood pressure, pulse, sweating and the digestive process may occur due to the part of the nervous system which regulates these functions becoming impaired. This may lead to dizziness, falls and bowel issues such as constipation.
- Sleep difficulties, such as problems with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, causing you to physically act out your dreams while you’re asleep (a condition known as REM sleep behavior disorder).
- Fluctuating attention, with episodes of drowsiness, long periods of staring into space, long naps or disorganized speech.
Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosis
Your healthcare provider will likely consider a progressive decline in your cognitive abilities, in addition to fluctuating alertness, repeated visual hallucinations and Parkinsonian symptoms, an indication of a potential Lewy body dementia diagnosis.
To confirm the diagnosis, your healthcare provider will start with a physical examination and neurological assessment in which signs of Parkinson's disease, strokes, tumors or other medical conditions that affect the brain and physical function are examined for. Neurological examination may test your reflexes, muscle strength and tone, eye movements, sense of touch, as well as your balance and ability to walk.
Blood tests can rule out physical problems affecting brain function, such as B-12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid gland. Brain scans, such as an MRI, PET or CT scan, can identify stroke or bleeding, and rule out the possibility of tumor. Additionally, certain features of these imaging studies may suggest a specific dementia diagnosis, such as Alzheimer's disease or Lewy body dementia. Your healthcare provider may also recommend a sleep evaluation to check for REM sleep behavior disorder, or an autonomic function test to look for signs of heart rate and blood pressure instability.
Lewy Body Dementia Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Lewy body dementia. Treatment can be challenging, but your healthcare provider will suggest a Lewy body dementia treatment plan that aims to improve your individual symptoms. Early detection of Lewy body dementia symptoms and treatment is key to slow down the cognitive decline associated with the condition.
Cholinesterase inhibitors may be prescribed to increase the levels of chemical messengers involved in memory, thought and judgement (neurotransmitters), in turn improving alertness and cognition, as well as possibly reducing hallucinations and other behavioral problems. Parkinson's disease medications, such as carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet), may be prescribed to help reduce parkinsonian symptoms such as rigid muscles and slow movement. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe other medications based on your symptoms, such as medications to improve sleep or movement problems.
Additionally, alternative medicine approaches to promote relaxation--such as music therapy, pet therapy, aromatherapy and massage therapy--may be recommended by your healthcare provider to improve your quality of life. As the condition worsens, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy can help you manage your declining motor skills.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of Lewy body dementia, it's important to consult a healthcare provider who can help. Schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Santa Monica that specializes in Lewy body dementia treatment. Call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
Vitality Integrative Medicine
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