Old age is an inevitable part of life. As a person advances in age, they slow down, and become less independent. Elderly people have specific requirements for...
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disease of the brain that develops over a period of time, rendering the brain incapable of working properly. Some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is that the patient loses their memory, and their capacity to communicate and perform everyday functions which results in dementia. Alois Alzheimer discovered Alzheimer’s disease in 1906 in Germany and it is the commonest cause of dementia in the world.
Although reversible dementia can be caused by normal pressure hydrocephalus, a deficiency in vitamin B12 deficiency, and from infections caused by late-stage AIDS, the dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease is not reversible, and there is no known cure. There are two forms of the disease – early onset Alzheimer’s and late onset, or typical Alzheimer’s.
Lewy body dementia, or LBD is a disease of the brain which causes progressive dementia, marked by a gradual decline in mental abilities. LBD is caused by accumulation of protein known as Lewy bodies. The disease affects movement, thinking and memory. Like Alzheimer’s disease, LBD is also difficult to diagnose, and it takes up to two years to detect. The first sign of this disease is impaired walking.
Hallucinations are another symptom of this disease, which results in the patient seeing non-existent objects, animals or people. The patient may also engage in imaginary conversations with deceased loved ones. The disease is characterized by diminished alertness, drowsiness during the day and staring into space. There may also be bouts of muscle rigidity, slowness in movement and tremors.
To begin with, both these diseases are difficult to diagnose, immediately. The onset of Alzheimer’s or LBD is not like catching a cold or getting the flu, which is marked with high fever and weakness. The symptoms are characteristic of those that commonly occur in older people. Several of the symptoms, both mental and physical, are initially attributed to advancing old age. It is only after a few months or even years have elapsed, that the extreme symptoms become a matter of concern among friends and relatives, and the patient is sent for a thorough medical examination.
Both LBD and Alzheimer’s affect the brain, which in turn impairs the patient’s mental capacity and also manifest themselves physically, causing impaired movement, loss in coordination and tremors. Both the conditions involve hallucinations, and serious memory loss.
Although difficult to diagnose, it should be kept in mind that both LBD and Alzheimer’s disease are the most common causes of dementia in the US, as well as several other parts of the world. Due to this reason, once there are clear symptoms of dementia, the immediate objective would be to verify whether the cause is related to either of the two diseases. They both affect elderly patients, although LBD affects slightly younger people, even as young as 50 years old.
While some differences between these two diseases are well-distinguished, others are subtle. Let us take look at the most widely-known differences between the two:
These are both debilitating diseases of the brain which commonly affect older and elderly people. With both men and women LBD and Alzheimer’s disease can develop these diseases, on an almost fifty-fifty basis. Both these diseases are incurable and difficult to diagnose, which can only be arrived at through diagnosis of exclusion, and basically, only the symptoms are treated. Even when either disease is diagnosed, there is a thin line between LBD and Alzheimer’s disease. We have highlighted these subtle differences which should make it easier to make out the difference between Lewy Body Dementia and Alzheimer’s.