Alcohol and dementia can be connected in several ways. Firstly, increased and prolonged consumption of alcohol eventually leads to dementia. Secondly, people may be suffering from both, dementia and also have problem with alcohol. And finally, patients suffering from early stages of Alzheimer disease or any other form of dementia may start drinking because they cannot deal with the primary disease.
Still, prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol leads to alcohol induced dementia. Patients suffer from various problems such as loss of memory, learning and cognitive skills. This medical condition is also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and represents permanent damage of brain cells. The initial damage is caused by the very alcohol while malnutrition additionally contributes to the damage. This syndrome can be divided into two sub-syndromes. Wernicke's disease refers to damage of brain and spinal cord cells as well as cells of other organs while Korsakoff syndrome actually includes psychosis which features with loss of memory, intellectual and cognitive problems.
The brain and the liver suffer most in alcoholics. Alcohol causes damage of brain cells directly and indirectly. Indirect damage is induced by improper intake of food. Alcoholics eventually develop malnutrition and vitamin and mineral insufficiency. This damages the brain even more. And finally, in patients whose liver has been significantly damaged it cannot metabolize any of the substances properly, including alcohol, so toxic substances accumulate in the body and lead to further damage of all organs including the brain.
Characteristics of Alcohol Dementia
Patients suffering from alcohol dementia have problems with communication, they are disorientated and cannot deal with everyday problems. Personality changes include paranoia and increased fear of being abandoned. Their mood changes a lot and they commonly become aggressive and/or overemotional.
Prevention and Solution for Alcohol Dementia
Alcoholic dementia and Korsakoff's syndrome can become visible after one abstains from alcohol for at least 4 to 5 weeks. Then symptoms and signs of dementia become visible and obvious. Psychological testing will provide with perfect insight in memory status and other mental abilities.
The best way is to treat patients in early stages of dementia. Abstention from alcohol and well-balanced diet may prevent further damage and progression of the disease. Vitamin B1 supplements are required since, this vitamin is essential in maintenance of healthy brain cells.
Once the dementia occurs alcoholics usually already suffer from additional medical conditions. They need to be brought under control by certain medications and this will additionally help in battle against dementia. The best thing one can do is to stop drinking completely and progression of the disease will be stopped.