Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), also known as Lewy body dementia, is a commontype of dementia estimated toaffectmore than 100,000 people in the UK.

"Dementia" is the name for problems with mental abilities caused by gradual changes and damage in the brain.It's rare inpeople under65.

It tends to developslowly and get graduallyworse over several years.

This page covers:


Getting medical advice

Tests and diagnosis




Symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies

People with dementia with Lewy bodies may have:

  • problems with understanding, thinking, memory and judgement this is similar to Alzheimer's disease , although memory may be less affected in people with dementia with Lewy bodies
  • periods of fluctuating alertness alternating with periods of confusion or sleepiness this can change over hours or days
  • slow movement, stiff limbs and tremors (uncontrollable shaking)
  • hallucinations (usually seeing or sometimes hearing things that aren't there)
  • disturbed sleep, often with violent movements and shouting out
  • fainting spells, unsteadiness and falls

These problems can make daily activities increasingly difficult and someone with the condition may eventually be unable to look after themselves.

But this is highly variable and some people live much longer than this.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, remember that you're not alone. The NHS and social services ,as well as voluntary organisations, can provide advice and support for you and your family.

Causes of dementia with Lewy bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by clumps of protein forming inside brain cells. These abnormal deposits are called Lewy bodies.

These deposits are also found in people with Parkinson's disease , and they build up in areas of the brain responsible for functions such as thinking, visual perception and muscle movement.

It's not clear why the deposits develop and how exactly they damage the brain. It's thought that part of the problem is the proteins affecting the brain's normal functions by interfering with signals sent between brain cells.

Dementia with Lewy bodies usually occurs in people with no family history of the condition, although there have been very rare cases that seem to run in families.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 8 Jan 2017