by Alma Causey
A very common perception is that with old age people become prone to developing Dementia. Another major hypothesis is that females tend to develop dementia more compared to the male population. Other than age and sex as a factor, substance abuse and alcoholism can also be the cause of Dementia in the later stages of life.
Alcohol-related Dementia is a form of Dementia where the executive functioning of a person’s brain is impaired due to an aggressive intake of alcohol over an extended period of time. Executive functions refers to different tasks that our brain performs such as judgment, thinking or planning. These functions help us make our daily life decisions, and it is very difficult to function without them. Patients may develop problems in the frontal lobe of the brain, and as a result disregard any consequence to their impaired functioning, which is most likely to have an impact on their family and friends.
This type of Dementia has another subset, which is commonly referred to as wet brain. This specific condition is characterized by the deficiency of Vitamin B1 (also known as Thiamine) and short term memory loss. Even though Alcohol Related Dementia is widely recognized, it does not hold a substantial diagnostic criteria for proper application.
If you consider the occurrence of this progressive disease in people, then Alcohol Related Dementia could occur on its own, or it could go hand in hand with Mixed Dementia. Find out more about Mixed Dementia here.
What Causes Alcohol-Related Dementia
The number one cause, as mentioned above is the thiamine deficiency, which leads to the brain experiencing atrophy. Alcoholics of a chronic nature tend to have poor diets, as the alcohol damages the internal organs as well, as a result they are not able to receive all the nutrients that a body needs in order to function properly.
However, it should be noted that alcohol is not the direct cause of this kind of Dementia, in actuality it is the poor diet of the alcoholic that ends up developing Alcoholic Related Dementia. Alcoholic drinks contain minimal nutritional value, which does not really make any positive difference to your body, and at the same time it contains a lot of calories.
And as for the Thiamine, it is significantly required by our nerve cells in order to function properly. With a chronic deficiency, they are not active enough to send each other messages through which the brain runs our entire body.
Drinking alcohol at an early age and in large volumes can potentially increase chances of developing an early-onset Dementia (under the age of 65). Alcohol use outweighs all the other factors such as genetics, drug abuse or any other neurotic condition.
Symptoms and Signs
The degree and chronicity of symptoms depends on the stage of Alcohol Related Dementia that the patient is at.
Early development stage:
Later stage psychosis development:
Treatment of Alcohol Related Dementia
There is little hope of recovery if extensive damage has been already done. However, in less severe cases the treatment requires sufficient doses of thiamine in order to fill the deficient areas. Vitamin B1 injections or IV infusions can stop the progression of Dementia in the patient, and it is most likely required by the patient to remain hospitalized until the deficiency is fully corrected. It should be noted that this kind of treatment may save the patient from the progression of the disease, but there isn’t much that can be done about the memory loss.
Once the patient quits alcohol, he should be able to take a good road to recovery only if he had mild damage, but those who suffered major brain impairment, they would have to learn to adapt with it, but with quitting alcohol completely, their life should improve to a great extent.
Prevention of Alcoholic Dementia
The key to prevention is a balanced diet, and to avoid drinking too much alcohol, especially at a young age. Other than this, eating foods that are rich in Thiamine such as Potatoes, Bananas, Grains, and Lentils, could counteract the damage done by the alcohol you consume. However, it is imperative that you drink within an absolutely safe limit.
Significant cognitive impairment is caused due to alcohol abuse and this is most likely to contribute to common forms of Dementia. Aggressive alcoholism over a long period of time can cause Alcohol-Related Dementia.