Identifying precisely which diseases fall into the category of frontotemporal dementia presents a particular challenge to scientists. The signs and symptoms may vary greatly from one individual to the next. Researchers have identified several clusters of symptoms that tend to occur together and are dominant in subgroups of people with the disorder. More than one symptom cluster may be apparent in the same person. The signs and symptoms of frontotemporal dementia progressively worsen with time, almost always over years, eventually requiring 24-hour care.
The most common signs and symptoms of frontotemporal dementia involve extreme changes in behavior and personality. These include:
- Increasingly inappropriate actions
- Loss of empathy and other interpersonal skills
- Lack of judgment and inhibition
- Repetitive compulsive behavior
- A decline in personal hygiene
- Changes in eating habits, predominantly overeating
- Lack of awareness of thinking or behavioral changes
Speech and language problems
Some subtypes of frontotemporal dementia are marked by the impairment or loss of speech and language difficulties.
Primary progressive aphasia, one subtype, is characterized by an increasing difficulty in using and understanding written and spoken language. For example, people may have trouble finding the right word to use in speech or naming objects.
People with another subtype, semantic dementia, utter grammatically correct speech that has no relevance to the conversation at hand. They may have difficulty understanding written or spoken language, or they may have difficulty recalling the words for common objects.
People with logopenic phonological aphasia talk slowly and have difficulty finding the right word to use or naming objects. They may have memory difficulties as well.
Rarer subtypes of frontotemporal dementia are characterized by problems with movement, similar to those associated with Parkinson's disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Movement-related signs and symptoms may include:
Aug. 05, 2014
- Muscle spasms
- Poor coordination
- Difficulty swallowing
- Muscle weakness
- NINDS frontotemporal dementia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/picks/picks.htm. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Miller BL, et al. Frontotemporal dementia: Epidemiology, pathology and pathogenesis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Randolph C. Frontotemporal dementia: Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Elman LB, et al. Clinical features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other forms of motor neuron disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Shadlen MF, et al. Evaluation of cognitive impairment and dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Miller BL, et al. Frontotemporal dementia: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Press D, et al. Treatment of behavioral symptoms related to dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 14, 2013.
- Anxiety and agitation. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-agitation-anxiety.asp. Accessed Aug. 16, 2013.
- Caregiver support groups. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-support-groups.asp. Accessed Aug. 16, 2013
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 13, 2013.
- Being a healthy caregiver. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-healthy-caregiver.asp. Accessed Aug. 19, 2013.
- Knopman DS (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 11, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.