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 dementia with Lewy bodies.

There is evidence that drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, may help to improve some of the symptoms of DLB, including thinking skills and visual hallucinations.

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 and 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 provoke or worsen visual hallucinations. If this happens, tell your doctor.

Practical steps, such as moving sharp objects away from the bed, can reduce the risk of injury during 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 January 2018 and is due for review in January 2020. 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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