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Parkinson’s disease due to paraquat exposure misdiagnosed as dementia with Lewy bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most common type of dementia after Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, and it currently occurs in 1 million people in the United States.

It is a disease in which abnormal deposits of a protein known as alpha-synuclein accumulate in the brain.

These deposits, known as Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain whose changes can cause difficulty with thinking, movement, and mood.

Because people who suffer from Parkinson's disease experience similar symptoms as individuals with Lewy body dementia, assigning a correct and precise diagnosis is often challenging for medical specialists.

Thereby, people with a history of paraquat exposure, which increases the risk of Parkinson's disease by 250%, need to seek a second and even a third opinion in order to receive the right diagnosis.

What is Lewy body dementia?

The usual onset of dementia with Lewy bodies occurs at age 50 or older, and it tends to affect more men than women. This condition is a progressive disease, which means that the symptoms increase in frequency and intensity over time.

People with Lewy body dementia live for 5 to 8 years from the time of diagnosis, but their life expectancy ranges from 2 to 20 years. In the early stages, the symptoms are usually mild and people can function quite normally.

Nevertheless, as the disease progresses, people with Lewy body dementia require more help as a result of their decline in thinking and movement abilities. At the moment, there is no cure for dementia with Lewy bodies. The following are the most common symptoms of this condition, many of which resemble those of Parkinson's disease:

  • Dementia: It involves severe loss of thinking, which may hinder the capacity of the person to perform daily tasks. The symptom also refers to difficulty with attention, visual and spatial abilities, planning, multitasking, problem-solving, and reasoning.
  • Cognitive fluctuations: This symptom concerns unpredictable changes in concentration, attention, alertness, and wakefulness, and the person who experiences it may stare into space for long periods of time, appear drowsy and lethargic, or sleep for several hours during the day in spite of getting enough sleep the night before. Furthermore, their flow of ideas may sometimes become disorganized, unclear, or illogical. However, the sufferer may seem better one day and worse the next.
  • Hallucinations: Up to 80% of people with Lewy body dementia experience visual hallucinations, which are often realistic and detailed. While auditory and gustatory hallucinations are less frequent in people with this disorder, they may occur from time to time.

Other symptoms of Lewy body dementia include the following:

  • muscle rigidity or stiffness
  • shuffling walk, slow movement, or frozen stance
  • tremor or shaking, most commonly at rest
  • balance problems and repeated falls
  • stooped posture
  • loss of coordination
  • smaller handwriting than was usual for the person
  • reduced facial expression
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a weak voice

How is Lewy body dementia different from Parkinson's disease?

It is worthy of note that some people with Parkinson's disease will experience dementia. In these cases, dementia starts as a movement disorder, accompanied by symptoms such as slowed movement, muscle stiffness, tremors, and a shuffling walk.

These symptoms are consistent with the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Subsequently, cognitive symptoms of dementia and changes in mood and behavior may appear.

Lewy body dementia is actually the umbrella term for two related diagnoses: dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease dementia. Nevertheless, Lewy body dementia is a different diagnosis than Parkinson's disease.

While Lewy body dementia is a type of dementia that leads to difficulties with memory and thinking that are severe enough to interfere with daily activities, Parkinson's disease dementia is a term used to describe dementia that arises following several years of struggling with Parkinson's disease.

Therefore, it is crucial for the medical specialist to make the difference between Lewy body dementia, Parkinson's disease dementia, and Parkinson's disease so that they can assign the patient a correct diagnosis.

Quality assistance for people injured by paraquat exposure

The team of professionals at Atraxia Law has been evaluating personal injury and product liability claims for over 35 years and will provide you with quality services if you were exposed to paraquat in occupational settings and subsequently developed Parkinson's disease.

We will thoroughly assess your situation to determine whether you are eligible to file a claim to recover the financial compensation you deserve.