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Differentiating Different Types of Dementia Symptoms - DementiaGuide.com
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Differences in symptoms between different types of dementias


Posted on December 16, 2009 by DementiaGuide

Differentiating Different Types of Dementia Symptoms

Identifying unique symptoms that correlate with common types of dementia

There are many conditions that can cause dementia. These underlying conditions are also referred to as types of dementia. The three most common types are Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

Dementia symptoms that generally occur in all three types include significantly impaired intellectual functioning, memory loss, loss of ability to solve problems and maintain emotional control, neglect of personal safety, hygiene, nutrition and personality changes. Each dementia type has its own distinctive symptoms.

With Alzheimer's disease, a distinctive dementia symptom that occurs involves a disruption in the person's sleep/wake cycle. People with Alzheimer's disease may stay up all night and sleep all day. In fact, the results of a five-year study published in the Neurology journal show that 26 out of the 93 subjects who had disruptive sleep patterns were diagnosed with a neurodegenerative affliction. Also, another key difference is that not all people with Alzheimer's disease exhibit significant behavioral problems associated with dementia.

The dementia symptoms in vascular dementia can usually start suddenly. This is because vascular dementia is caused by strokes or cerebrovascular disease (i.e., brain aneurysm, heart clot). Atypical symptoms involve the loss of control over bladder or bowel movements. This is called incontinence. Individuals also tend to wander at night, have problems handling money, and have inappropriate crying or laughing outbursts. Unlike people with Alzheimer's disease, people with vascular dementia are able to maintain normal levels of emotional responsiveness until the latter stages of the dementia.

With the last dementia type, Lewy Body dementia, the differences in dementia symptoms are more distinctive. Hallucinations can occur at the early stages and not in the latter stages. Their cognitive impairments fluctuate frequently (moment-to-moment, day-to-day). So, one moment, someone with Lewy Body dementia can't remember what day it is, but the next moment, he or she can remember everything they did years before. Unlike the other two dementia types, impaired memory does not occur first, but waits until they have had the dementia for a period of time. People with this dementia type may have distinctive Parkinson-like symptoms: tremors, slow movements, stooped posture, stiffness in arms/legs, shuffling walk patterns, and mask-like facial appearance. Dementia symptoms can be unique to the dementia type and help medical experts to differentiate the diagnosis.

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Last updated November 16, 2017
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