Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is the second most prevalent form of progressive dementia. Although LBD affects approximately 1.4 million Americans, this disease is often misdiagnosed or entirely unrecognized in the earliest stages. Lewy Body Dementia symptoms can be difficult to detect, and many of the first signs are similar to other conditions, which is why receiving a diagnosis can be an arduous journey. Here, we discuss why LBD can be challenging to diagnose:
An LBD diagnosis takes an average of 18 months and several doctors to pinpoint. This condition is often misdiagnosed due to its shared symptoms with other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia.
If you suspect that a loved one may be entering the earliest stages of LBD, it’s crucial to seek help from a medical professional who’s familiar with this condition. Since the symptoms of LBD are so similar to other conditions, doctors who aren’t experienced with this disease may be likely to misdiagnose or dismiss the early symptoms.
Here are a few common symptoms of LBD:
● A slow, shuffling gait (similar to Parkinson’s disease)
● Balance problems
● Mood changes, such as anxiety or depression
● Restlessness or sleeplessness at night
● Out-of-character daytime sleepiness
● Difficulty concentrating
● Cognitive fluctuations
As Lewy Body Dementia symptoms aren’t distinctive individually and can easily be mistaken for other disorders, doctors or loved ones may not even recognize these symptoms and simply dismiss them as part of the aging process. The combination of all of these symptoms is what is important to note. Certain medications commonly prescribed for sleep or mood disorders cause severe side effects for individuals with LBD, so correct diagnosis and treatment is critical.
Although LBD isn’t a rare condition, lack of awareness is regarded as the primary cause of mistaken diagnoses. We believe LBD should become essential knowledge for all general practitioners and health care professionals so individuals with LBD and their loved ones have a better chance of receiving timely and appropriate treatment.
Lewy Body Dementia symptoms can be challenging to detect. Even when signs become present, not all health care professionals have the experience necessary to correctly diagnose the condition. If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms mentioned here in your loved one, seek help from a medical professional who’s familiar with LBD. An accurate, timely diagnosis and subsequent treatment are essential in prolonging quality of life and easing the severity of symptoms for as long as possible. Coping with an LBD diagnosis is emotionally demanding, and care partners require support, too. Whether you need assistance finding doctors, care partners, or therapeutic activities, please reach out to our team at the Lewy Body Dementia Resource Center. We have firsthand experience in navigating this condition, and we’re happy to speak with you to offer support and a listening ear. Our helpline is available seven days per week, and you can give us a call at 516-218-2026 (or email us at any time).