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Does Alcohol Consumption Cause Dementia

Does The Type Of Alcohol Matter

Does Alcohol Consumption Cause Dementia?

It depends on whom you ask. Research has come to different conclusions about this question. Multiple studies have cited wine as specifically having protective effects on people’s memory and cognitive ability. Other studies, however, have concluded that wine, beer, and liquor all have similar effects on cognition.

How To Treat And Prevent Alcoholic Dementia

Alcohol dementia treatment can be quite stressful for patients to undertake, but it is necessary to prevent more dangerous health problems and even death. The alcoholism treatment consists of IV therapies and infusions which attempt to reestablish the proper nutritional balance of the body. Patients need to stay in clinics or hospitals for certain periods where they will be closely monitored and treated. Alcohol must be avoided at all costs during the treatment period, a thing which most alcohol abusers find very hard to do. This happens because alcohol addicts have become so used to this toxic substance that the body craves it regularly. Alcoholism support groups are very helpful in these cases.

Dementia from alcohol abuse can also be treated with Thiamine therapy which brings the much-needed nutrients back into a sufferers body. This treatment improves the neurological functioning of the patient and prevents dementia from advancing to more dangerous stages. Patients must also receive proper counsel from professional therapists to discover the root causes of their alcohol addiction and to eliminate them. If proper treatment is administered on time, alcoholic abusers might have a chance of living an alcohol-free and happy life. The rehabilitation facility for alcoholics is the best option to contact to learn more about the recovery process.

Symptoms Of Alcohol Dementia

There are several symptoms which can be easily identified and might indicate that one suffers from this health problem. For example, headaches, frequent anger episodes, mood swings, slurred speech as well as memory gaps are serious signs of alcoholic dementia. Having regular alcohol blackout symptoms while drinking is also dangerous to the human brain and acts as a contributing factor to this condition.

Elderly alcoholic dementia is a closely-related condition which affects elderly people, and the health effects of alcohol are worse when coupled with other neurological illnesses such as Alzheimers disease or Parkinsons disease. This combination of brain issues might be incurable and are known as alcohol-induced psychosis.

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Acute Effects Of Alcohol

Alcohol usually refers to the molecule ethanol. As amphiphile, it is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and duodenum after oral consumption and passes the blood-brain barrier. The distribution and elimination show strong variability due to fed- or fasting state, drinking patterns, age, and genetics. In the central nervous system, ethanol modulates the function of multiple receptors: voltage-gated calcium channels and glutamate receptors are inhibited by alcohols, whereas some others, such as g-amino butyric acid type A receptors, glycine receptors, n-acetylcholine- and 5-HT3-receptors, are potentiated., Prior hypotheses on the effect of alcohol on cell membrane function in the central nervous system are viewed as less relevant to its acute effects. The effects appear to be dose-related, since at low dosages alcohol affects monoaminergic transmission and produces disinhibition and euphoria, while at high dosages anxiolytic and sedative effects are more prominent, mediated through increasing GABA activity and inhibiting excitatory amino acids.

What Is Alcohol Dementia

Alcoholic Dementia

Alcohol dementia is a condition characterized by impaired neurological and cognitive functioning and excessive alcohol consumption over many years. Other conditions and side effects may influence ARD. Still, the link between dementia and alcohol consumption cannot be ignored the primary cause of the condition is continuous alcohol abuse.

Many people think of ARD as a problem that only affects the elderly or those with other underlying conditions that worsen over an extended period as they enter old age. This is not true of ARD caused by alcoholism. Cognitive disabilities from alcohol can develop and slowly deteriorate as the individual ages. According to reports, alcohol abuse may accelerate changes that may typically be characterized as age-related cognitive degeneration. Older adults are most vulnerable to ARD, but younger people can be affected too.

ARD is thought to be a reactive combination of conditions triggered by abuse. In the following section, we examine the two underlying conditions most associated with alcoholism and dementia.

Statistics have shown that at least 20% of admissions to the state mental hospitals in the US are ARD cases. However, the debate of dementia or neurotoxicity due to alcohol abuse still remains.

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What Are Some Of The Symptoms As It Pertains To Dementia And Alcoholism

The symptoms associated with alcohol-related dementia can differ from person to person based on how much damage has been done to the brain and any other ailments they also might be suffering from. That being said, some of the more common symptoms associated with dementia and alcoholism include:

  • Anxiety
  • Mixing up time and locations
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Difficulty thinking clearly and logically
  • An impaired ability to learn new things
  • Having trouble communicating or coming up with the right words
  • Having problems with balance
  • Getting lost in familiar areas
  • A decrease in spontaneity
  • Poor decision-making
  • Cognitive problems

If you or someone you know has begun to display any of these symptoms you should reach out to your doctor immediately. It could be the signs of the development of alcohol-related brain damage.

What Is Alcohol Dementia How Can Ard Be Treated

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Most people know that prolonged alcohol abuse can cause physical illnesses such as liver and heart disease. Still, a few know that abuse can lead to many mental illnesses, and one of the most dangerous is alcohol dementia. Alcohol-related dementia is caused by prolonged, excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks.

While many people are concerned about the rise in Alzheimers disease, its important to remember that alcohol-induced dementia can result in similarly impaired cognitive function and neurological damage. And while the causes of Alzheimers and its ability to strike anyone at any time are not fully understood, there is no such mystery about ARD.

Keep reading to get several cautionary facts about alcohol and dementia, one of the most serious results of alcohol abuse. Dementia is not just something that could happen to elderly grandparents. ARD can potentially happen to anyone of any age.

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What Is Alcohol Related Dementia

Alcohol related dementia, as the name suggests, is a form of dementia related to the excessive drinking of alcohol. This affects memory, learning and other mental functions. Korsakoffs syndrome and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome are particular forms of alcohol related brain injury which may be related to alcohol related dementia.

Some People Should Not Drink Alcohol

Can Alcohol Abuse Cause Dementia?

There are some people that should not drink alcohol. This group includes but is not limited to alcoholics, people with Wernicke-Korakoff syndrome, those taking certain medications that could negatively interact with alcohol, people with certain medical conditions such as liver disease and pancreatitis, those who are under the legal age to drink, women who are pregnant and those who are operating a vehicle or performing other complex tasks.

Other studies have found that drinking alcohol has other health risks thus, your decision to drink alcohol should be discussed with your doctor.

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Treating And Preventing Ard

The treatment methods reserved for ARD cases are largely dependent on the individual and their history with alcoholism. The first stage of treatment is usually quitting alcohol. It is imperative to stay off alcohol because of its effects on the brain and health risks. Quitting alcohol must be followed by a healthy diet that is rich in vitamin B1. In serious cases, intravenous therapy may be necessary to replenish the body of essential nutrients such as B1, which is needed for brain functions and general health.

The Use of medications such as Memantine 20 mg/d as an anti-dementia agent also proved effective even in cases of individuals that have experienced an alcohol relapse.

A prompt diagnosis of ARD and alcohol cases can be beneficial, as symptoms discovered early can be treated in time. A full-blown Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can be complicated to treat however, with intravenous therapy , the development of the mental condition can be lessened.

The risk of alcohol-induced dementia is high in adults that use alcohol abusively. The health problems associated with alcoholism are extremely high, and the risk with alcohol and co-occurring cognitive disabilities makes it all the more terrifying. Those who are addicted to alcohol can seek care and treatment from a rehab or addiction support center. There are support services and helplines available for personal or family use.

The Link Between Alcohol And The Disease

Dr. Douglas Feinstein, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and lead study author, explained that the results of the study suggested that alcohol inhibits the ability of microglia to efficiently clear amyloid from the brain which he believes may contribute to a higher risk for developing Alzheimers.

There is a large literature supporting the idea that low amounts of alcohol can be beneficial not only peripherally, but in the brain. However, it might be prudent that if someone is at risk to develop Alzheimers, they should consider reducing their intake and certainly avoid binge or heavy drinking, said Feinstein.

Dr. David Reynolds, the chief scientific officer at Alzheimers Research UK, stated in an interview with Newsweek Magazine that it is hard to determine what level of consumption begins to affect the long-term health of the brain, but there is strong evidence that regular, heavy drinking increases the risk of dementia.

The study has revealed some groundbreaking evidence about alcohol use and the risk of Alzheimers, but more studies are needed so that conclusive evidence about the effects of consumption on the brain can be gathered. Dr. James A. Hendrix, the director of global science initiatives at the Alzheimers Association, commented that although the rat study results were interesting, the study involved very preliminary work.

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How Is Arbd Treated

A person who has ARBD wont only have problems caused by damage to their brain. They will usually also be addicted to alcohol. This means that they have become dependent on it. Addiction can make it much more difficult to treat a person with ARBD. This is because professionals need to treat the persons alcohol addiction together with their symptoms related to memory and thinking.

Treatments And Possible Solutions


If your loved one experiences the symptoms mentioned above, they may need to undergo testing to rule out other conditions like stroke or a tumor. They, and you, will be asked about how long symptoms have lasted and about their history of alcohol use.

If you know or suspect that your loved one drinks excessively, it is critical that you mention it to their doctor so they can receive a faster diagnosis and treatment.

Blood tests can show blood alcohol levels, markers of liver damage caused by alcoholism, and levels of thiamine. Your loved one will likely also need assessments that measure thinking and memory skills and screening for depression and other mental health conditions.

People with alcoholic or alcohol-related dementia not classified as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may see significant symptom improvement or reversal if they quit drinking alcohol and improve their diet.

If Wernicke encephalopathy is suspected, a person must get immediate medical treatment, typically consisting of high doses of thiamine and other B vitamins injected slowly into a vein. With timely treatment, most symptoms of this condition can be reversed within a few days. If Wernicke encephalopathy is left untreated or is not treated properly or rapidly, some people may have permanent brain damage, and very severe cases can even lead to death.

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Molecular Mechanisms Of Central Nervous System Toxicity

In humans, chronic alcohol exposure leads to in vivo up- and down-regulation of neuroreceptors availability related to alcohol withdrawal and craving . Genetic constitution interacts with monoaminergic dysfunction in alcohol withdrawal.

Adaptive up-regulation of NMDA-receptors and consecutively enhanced calcium influx is supposed to contribute to cell apoptosis and link the acute and chronic effects of alcohol consumption., The alcohol metabolite acetaldehyde was shown to be directly neurotoxic. Other probable causes of cell death are inflammatory processes via release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and microglia activation after high dose alcohol consumption Alcohol activates oxidases in the central nervous system, which leads to formation of free radicals and cell membrane damage. Homocysteine is elevated after consumption of higher doses of alcohol and might contribute to alcohol-related brain damage.

Should Moderate Drinkers Worry

Most research suggests that drinking one or two units of alcohol a day – a small glass of red wine, particularly – could be of benefit to brain health.

But the advice is not straightforward because studies have also found that even in moderation, drinking alcohol could increase the risk of dementia.

However, there is a big difference between low-to-moderate drinking and people who drink in a way that is harmful – those who are binge-drinkers or alcohol-dependent.

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Inclusion And Exclusion Criteria

Reviews or meta-analyses were included if they described the systematic search process with listed databases and search terms. Narrative reviews without an explicit search strategy were excluded. In addition, included studies were restricted to systematic reviews that assessed the relationship between alcohol use and cognitive health, dementia, AD, vascular and other dementias, brain function, or memory. Systematic reviews on the association between alcohol use and brain structures were also included. Studies were included if they were published in 2000 or later in order to include only reviews which were undertaken using methodological standards similar to those used today however, this does not mean that the original studies underlying these reviews were restricted to 2000 or later .

Heavy Drinking And Dementia


However, heavy drinking is more robustly linked to an increased risk of dementia. This appears to be for a number of reasons.

Firstly, when alcohol is broken down in the body, it produces acetaldehyde, which is toxic to brain cells. Heavy drinking can also lead to thiamine deficiency and, eventually, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which negatively impacts brain function.

Alcohol misuse is associated with other factors that can influence brain function, such as epilepsy and head injuries. On top of this, alcohol consumption raises the risk of vascular dementia due to its effect on the vascular system as a whole for instance, it increases blood pressure.

Although the above factors adequately explain why alcohol abuse and dementia may be linked, the exact size and scale of the issue is not clear.

Because heavy drinking often comes hand-in-hand with other dementia risk factors including smoking, depression, and low education levels cause and effect are difficult to tease apart.

Recently, researchers from the Translational Health Economics Network in Paris, France, set out to investigate the relationship between alcohol use disorders and early-onset dementia . Their results are published in

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Parkinsons Disease And Alcohol: Your Guide

If you have Parkinsons disease , you may be wondering whether alcohol consumption affects the development or progression of your condition. Some people may wonder if they should avoid drinking completely. As one MyParkinsonsTeam member asked, How does alcohol affect Parkinsons how much can I drink? Or should I avoid drinking altogether?

Some studies havent found that small amounts of alcohol are associated with a higher PD risk, while others highlight the dangers alcohol can pose for anyone with a chronic condition. In addition, there may be adverse interactions between alcohol and common Parkinsons medications. Because of conflicting information, people with PD may feel confused about whether or not to drink.

Ive been told by more than one doctor that I should not have any alcohol, one MyParkinsonsTeam member wrote. And at this point, I dont remember which doctor or specifically why.

So, how do you decide what approach to take?

If you have Parkinsons disease and are trying to decide whether or not to reduce your drinking or quit alcohol completely here are some things to consider.

Light To Moderate Amounts Of Alcohol

Moderate alcohol drinking is classified as drinking one alcoholic drink a day for women and two a day for men. Light drinking describes those who drink less than moderate drinkers but more than those who totally abstain from alcohol.

In a study that involved over 3000 adults over the age of 75, light to moderate drinking was associated with a 42% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a 29% lower risk of all types of dementia.

One study found that among women who were over the age of 90, a decrease in alcohol consumption was associated with an increase in the development of mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

Another study considered how alcohol consumption affected people with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment . This study demonstrated that light to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a decreased chance of mild cognitive impairment progressing into full dementia. Participants who never drank alcohol had a higher chance of developing dementia than those who were light to moderate drinkers, while heavy drinkers were the most likely to progress to dementia.

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Alcohol Consumption And Dementia

  • /
  • Alcohol Consumption and Dementia

  • Knowing what factors increase the risk of dementia is important in the battle against the disease. Alcohol consumption is one such factor and a new British Medical Journal study added to the growing body of research into how it can lead to an increased risk of dementia.

    Learn more about the study, which discovered that both those who abstained from drinking alcohol altogether and those who ingested too much alcohol were both at a higher risk of developing dementia.

    Are There Ways To Test For Alcohol

    Alcohol and Dementia

    The good news is, many different types of tests are available to help determine if alcohol-related dementia has begun to set in before its too late. The majority of these tests focus on examining a persons nervous system in addition to their muscular system. Many of these tests incorporate the drawing of blood to test things like vitamin levels and nutrition as well as liver and enzyme testing.

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