Dementia with Lewy bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most common cause of dementia.

There are some treatments that can help with the symptoms of DLB and PDD.

There is evidence that the drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease may help to improve some of the symptoms of DLB and PDD, including problems with thinking skills and visual hallucinations.

These drugs are called:

  • donepezil
  • rivastigmine
  • galantamine
  • memantine

A doctor may consider antipsychotic drugs to treat agitation or aggression in dementia. However, people with DLB can have severe side-effects from these drugs so treatment should be carefully monitored. The doctor should first consider an assessment of the person’s health and environment. This could help identify any causes or triggers of agitation or aggression that could be addressed without medication.

Movement symptoms in DLB can be treated using physiotherapy or with levodopa, a drug used in Parkinson’s disease. There is a risk this drug may cause visual hallucinations or other mental health symptoms to appear or get worse. If this happens, tell your doctor.

Practical steps, such as moving sharp objects away from the bed, can reduce the risk of injury during disturbed sleep. There are also drugs available that can help people who act out dreams.

Non-drug treatments, such as cognitive therapies, exercises and group activities, may also help with some of the symptoms. You can discuss your treatment options with the doctor.

For detailed information about the treatments available, visit our general treatments section or talk to your GP.

This information was updated in December 2019 and is due for review in December 2021. It does not replace any advice that doctors, pharmacists or nurses may give you. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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