Alcoholic dementia is a health issue that occurs due to chronic alcohol abuse or heavy drinking for long periods. This complication resembles Alzheimer’s disease, and it can severely affect an individual’s learning abilities, cognitive functions, and memory.
How Alcoholic Dementia Occurs
Alcohol has many impacts on the brain, including affecting its functions. Also, chronic alcohol consumption or addiction harms the brain cells while interfering with the decision making process and proper judgment.
Additional challenges that affect heavy alcohol drinkers include nutrition deficiency due to poor eating habits. These are the primary causes of alcoholic dementia.
Similar to Alzheimer’s disease, the condition causes permanent brain damage once it develops. Therefore, it is irreversible even if a person quits alcohol use.
Alcoholic dementia can also result in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, divided into two different disorders: Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff psychosis.
People struggling with severe alcohol abuse often have a poor diet habit, which causes nutritional deficiencies.
Therefore, Wernicke’s encephalopathy develops due to inadequate (Thiamine) Vitamin B1, which helps the body convert food into energy. Vitamin B1 deficiency hinders the nerve cells from producing enough energy to function correctly. Physical symptoms may include unsteady gait, abnormal eye movements, and confusion.
Moreover, Korsakoff psychosis is a more severe syndrome that results from brain damage due to Wernicke’s encephalopathy. The main symptoms include significant nerve damage and cognitive function and memory impairment.
Symptoms of Alcoholic Dementia
Several symptoms come with alcoholic dementia. The most apparent ones are confusion and temporary memory challenges in the early stages. Further development of the disease leads to worsened symptoms.
Symptoms of Wernicke encephalopathy
- Involuntary and rapid eyes movement
- Confusion and disorientation
- Drooping eyelids
- Loss of muscle coordination
Symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome
- Repetitive storytelling and questions
- Difficulty learning new things
- Memory loss
- Difficulty or unable to form new memories
Overall alcoholic dementia symptoms may include:
- impulsive behavior
- Repetitive habits
- trouble concentrating
- Poor decision making and planning
- Difficulties controlling emotions
Usually, the symptoms associated with alcoholic dementia appear gradually, making it difficult to determine whether an individual is experiencing the disorder. However, several tests can confirm the presence of alcoholic dementia, which include:
- Nervous and muscular system testing can determine nerve damage, such as observing for involuntary or abnormal eye movement, abnormal gait or walk, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, and muscle weakness.
- Blood testing to determine vitamin B1 deficiencies
- Liver enzyme testing
Treatment of Alcoholic Dementia
Early diagnosis can increase improvement during treatment. Usually, the first step involves stopping alcohol consumption. Symptoms associated with Vitamin B1 deficiency can be addressed using thiamine supplements.
It takes several weeks or months before symptoms improve, so a person will remain in a health treatment facility until significant symptoms diminish. However, people diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may experience irreversible cognitive functions.
Final Words from the Recover
The best way to control chronic alcohol abuse before it causes alcoholic dementia is to seek professional alcohol addiction treatment.
Failure to seek medical attention immediately after the initial symptoms, progress may cause severe consequences, even coma or death. Therefore, if you struggle with chronic alcohol abuse, ensure to check various rehab centers near you that offer different treatment programs and support to address alcohol use disorders.