1.4 million Americans live with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). A diagnosis for LBD may be difficult to determine, as this condition manifests with symptoms that are similar to other diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease). If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, or you suspect that he or she may be on the way to a diagnosis, you may be curious about the criteria for detection. Here, we share what you need to know about how LBD is diagnosed.
Who Can Diagnose Lewy Body Dementia?
Lewy Body Dementia presents with a host of symptoms, which often include hallucinations, changes in movement or gait, and sleep disorders. If you’ve noticed signs of LBD in yourself or someone you’re close to, the first step is to seek out a doctor who can help. Many individuals choose to see a family doctor, but it may be best to ask for a referral to a specialist, such as a neurologist or geriatric psychiatrist. Seeing a physician who specializes in brain and nervous system disorders may lead to an accurate and timely diagnosis.
How is Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosed?
Currently, no tests or scans can conclusively detect the presence of Lewy Bodies in the brain. However, there are several other criteria that doctors use to diagnose LBD. Neurological and physical exams are often performed when diagnosing Lewy Body Dementia, and these include:
- Laboratory studies. Lab tests are used to assess hormonal issues or vitamin deficiencies that may contribute to the patient’s symptoms. Lab results are often the first step in ruling out other diseases.
- Brain imaging. Although the presence of Lewy Bodies cannot be detected in living individuals, brain imaging can determine whether brain shrinkage or other abnormalities have occurred. In some cases, changes within the brain contribute to movement or personality changes.
- Neuropsychological exams. This type of evaluation is crucial for assessing cognitive functions, including memory. Conducting neuropsychological tests can help determine which parts of the brain are affected by LBD or other neurological disorders.
- The three-minute test developed by Dr. James Galvin. This survey consists of 10 simple yes-or-no questions that evaluate the presence of motor and non-motor signs associated with LBD. This test may be administered by the physician in order to reach a diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia.
Lewy Body Dementia symptoms often begin slowly, and it can be challenging to find the right diagnosis. If you’re on the search for a doctor who’s familiar with LBD, please browse our website for resources.
Coping with a diagnosis of LBD requires support from a community that understands the disease and its progression. If you’re ever in need of advice or a listening ear, we’re here to help. Our helpline is available seven days a week, so feel free to give us a call at 516-218-2026 or reach out via email.