SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
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. For example, primary progressive aphasia is characterized by an increasing difficulty in using and understanding written and spoken language. People with another subtype, semantic dementia, utter grammatically correct speech that has no relevance to the conversation at hand or may have difficulty recalling the words for common objects.
Rarer subtypes of frontotemporal dementia are characterized by problems with movement, similar to those associated with Parkinson's disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also often called Lou Gehrig's disease.
Movement-related signs and symptoms may include:
- Muscle spasms
- Poor coordination
- Difficulty swallowing
- Muscle weakness
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