Alzheimer’s disease is the most common association for people when they think about dementia. But there are various types of this condition, and there are many ways that it can be caused. One way that we are going to talk about today will surprise you. It’s alcohol. You might be wondering, “Can alcohol cause dementia?” Yes, it can. There is a state of mind called alcohol-induced dementia.
What Is Alcohol-Induced Dementia?
The difference between alcohol-induced dementia and other forms of this disease is that this one is due to brain damage caused by excessive drinking. Some people know this condition as alcohol-related brain damage or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
Brain damage in later stages of life can be related to the amount of alcohol an individual consumed during his life. People who don’t drink at all during their 30s or 40s have less chance of developing dementia when they are older than 65, compared with those that consume five or six beers or a bottle of wine a day. The reason behind this lies in the fact that alcohol kills brain cells faster than aging. Because of this, there is a correlation between drinking and dementia. So if you have been wondering can alcohol cause dementia, here’s your answer: Yes, the higher the number of drinks you have in your life, the higher your chances of developing this condition.
Alcoholic Dementia Symptoms
The symptoms of dementia related to alcohol can vary depending on which part of the brain was damaged by the excessive drinking. Regardless of that, the signs below can be expected if you or your loved one develop alcohol-related dementia:
- Reduced ability to maintain attention
- Loss of sensitivity for other people’s feelings
- Trouble making decisions
- Behavior that is considered inappropriate by moral standards
- Reduced ability to think reasonably
- Inability to organize yourself and your obligations
- Memory loss to a great extent
While memory loss often follows alcohol-induced dementia, especially short-term memory, not all patients will experience it.
The Stages of Alcohol-Induced Dementia
The Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is the most common type of alcohol dementia. This variation has all of the above-mentioned symptoms, followed with expressed confusion, more severe memory loss, issues in communication with others, and trouble with learning new things. It also can cause the patient to hallucinate.
There are two different stages of this type of dementia. The first one is called Wernicke encephalopathy which is a drastic form, while the other one is named Korsakoff syndrome which is the chronic, long-lasting type.
The first one happens when the brain reacts to the lack of thiamine which is caused by over-consumption of alcohol. This type is followed by stumbling, staggering, and involuntary eye movement, and it can be life-threatening. It is worth noting that not all patients with Wernicke encephalopathy will develop Korsakoff syndrome.
How to Treat Alcohol-Induced Dementia
Luckily for all those that have this type of dementia, there is good news. The best treatment for alcohol-induced dementia is to intake the needed amount of thiamine pills to replenish this vitamin. Taking other vitamins is also advised. But do this only under the supervision of your doctor.
While taking vitamins is a step in the right direction, we should also note that stopping the alcohol abuse is a must. Most people refuse to do this because of addiction, but they need to if they want to get better.
So to conclude our article, alcohol can cause dementia. Therefore, if you are an older adult with this bad habit, you need to stop drinking and start treatment to avoid severe consequences that come with this condition. Patients who stopped drinking and began treatment saw improvement in their health.
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