If you are worried about symptoms of dementia, your health, or someone else’s, you should talk to your GP.

If you are worried about symptoms of dementia, your health, or someone else’s, you should talk to your GP. There are many causes of memory and thinking problems that are not types of dementia and can be easily treated. For example, some vitamin deficiencies such as B12 deficiency and some thyroid disorders can cause dementia-like symptoms that can be reversed if detected and treated early. It is important to get the right diagnosis so that the right treatments and help can be given.

When you go to the doctor they will:

  • Ask you about your symptoms and how they are affecting you.
  • Check your medical history and general health.
  • Do some physical tests like blood pressure and a balance or reflexes test.
  • Ask you to do some memory and thinking tests.
  • Run blood and urine tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms.

Together these tests will help to identify the likely cause of your symptoms. If the doctor suspects you have dementia, you may be referred to a memory clinic or another specialist clinic where more in depth tests can be done. If possible, it is helpful if you can bring someone who knows you well to the appointment. This will help the specialist by giving information about any changes they may have noticed.

Mel Jarman

Once we got the referral, my mum was seen by a consultant and she he had an MRI scan to rule out a stroke and Parkinson’s. Then we got a letter confirming the diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies. It was a massive relief. It helped mum to know that there was something wrong with her; she would tell people ‘I’ve got dementia’, although she didn’t really understand it.

- Mel, whose mum was diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies

Brain scans like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computerised tomography), can help to diagnose dementia or rule out other causes of symptoms.

To help make a specific diagnosis of DLB, a type of scan called a SPECT scan (or ‘DaTscan’) may be used. This type of scan can show changes in the brain that are more common in this type of dementia. However, when symptoms of DLB or PD are quite clear, someone may not need this test.

You can find more information about getting a dementia diagnosis here.

Dementia with Lewy bodies

This booklet is for anyone who wants to know more about dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). This includes people living with DLB, their carers, families and friends.

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Alzheimer’s Research UK has a wide range of information about dementia. Order booklets or download them from our online form.

This information was updated in December 2023 and is due to be reviewed in December 2025. It was written by Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Information Services team with input from lay and expert reviewers. Please get in touch if you’d like a version with references or in a different format.

 

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