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Home :: Neurology Disorders

Beri Beri


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Beri Beri
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Wernickes Encephalopathy

This condition is mostly seen on a background of prolonged ingestion of alcohol. It is present in more than 80% cases of Wernicke-Korsakoff's disease. In advanced cases, the disease may cause heart failure and death . In adults, there are different forms of beriberi, classified according to the body systems most affected Cerebral beriberi, also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, usually occurs in chronic alcoholics and affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Although severe beriberi is uncommon in the United States, less severe thiamine deficiencies do occur. About 25% of all alcoholics admitted to a hospital in the United States show some evidence of thiamine deficiency.

Development of vitamin B1 deficiency in chronic alcoholics is due to low intake, impaired absorption in the digestive system and storage, accelerated destruction of Thiamin and varying degrees of energy expenditure. It can be caused by a situation that aggravates a chronic thiamine deficiency, like an alcoholic binge or severe vomiting. Four major types of beriberi exist: wet beriberi, which affects primarily the cardiovascular system; dry beriberi, which affects primarily the nervous system; shoshin, which is a rapidly evolving and frequently fatal form of cardiovascular beriberi; and infantile beriberi, which tends to strike babies between the ages of one and four months who are breastfed by mothers who are severely thiamine deficient.

Beriberi is a vitamin deficiency disease in which the body does not have enough thiamine (vitamin B1). Beriberi literally means "I can't, I can't" in Singhalese, which reflects the crippling effect it has on its victims. Thiamine serves as a coenzyme in the chemical pathway responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates. Persons may become deficient in thiamine either by not ingesting enough vitamin B-1 through the diet or by excess use, which may occur in hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, lactation, or fever. Prolonged diarrhea may impair the body's ability to absorb vitamin B-1, and severe liver disease impairs its use. Swelling of bodily tissues ( edema ) is common.

In healthy individuals who are deprived of thiamine, thiamine stores are depleted in approximately 1 month. A mental disorder associated with chronic ethanol abuse (ALCOHOLISM) and nutritional deficiencies characterized by short term memory loss, confabulations, and disturbances of attention Not until the early 1900s did scientists discover that rice bran, the outer covering that was removed to create the polished white rice preferred by Asians, actually contained something that prevented the disease. Beriberi is a nervous system ailment caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B 1 ( thiamine ), the symptoms of which may include weight loss, emotional disturbances, impaired sensory perception ( Wernicke's encephalopathy ), weakness and pain in the limbs, and periods of irregular heartbeat.

Causes of Beri Beri

The common Causes of Beri Beri :

  • Food containing high level of thiaminases-milled rice, raw fresh water fish, raw shellfish, ferns
  • Fever- severe infection
  • Food high in anti–thiamine factor, such as tea, coffee, betel nuts
  • Pregnancy
  • Populations at risk are breastfeeding infants whose mothers are thiamin-deficient, adults with high consumption of milled rice, people who are alcoholic, patients on renal dialysis, patients on total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and patients with hypermetabolic states (eg, fever, infection, pregnancy, strenuous exercise).
  • Wet beriberi is characterized by swelling (edema), increased heart rate (tachycardia), lung congestion, and enlarged heart related to congestive heart failure.

Symptoms of Beri Beri

Some common Symptoms of Beri Beri :

  • Pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Tingling
  • Loss of feeling (sensation) in hands and feet
  • Muscle damage with loss of muscle function or paralysis of the lower legs
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Mental confusion/speech difficulties
  • Difficulty walking
  • Swelling of the lower legs
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Strange eye movements (nystagmus)

Symptoms of Beri Beri

Here is the list of the methods for treating Beri Beri :

  • The goal of treatment is to replace the thiamine that the person's body is lacking.
  • Support for other cardiac function is necessary in cases of wet beriberi because lack of cardiac function support leads to low output cardiac failure when the thiamine deficiency is corrected
  • Neurologic and psychiatric consultations are often necessary.
  • Essential for diagnosis and management of beriberi
  • Documents congestive heart failure (CHF) and the poor ventricular function observed in beriberi
  • Blood tests may be done after the person is given thiamine supplements to see how well they are responding to the medicine.
  • However, with severe deficiency, some symptoms may be irreversible patients should also receive therapeutic doses of other water-soluble vitamins.