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Does Alcohol Make Dementia Worse

Symptoms Of Alcohol Dementia

Is alcohol the leading cause of 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.

Who Is More At Risk Of Developing Alcohol

Based on a cross-study analysis, the following increases your risk for alcohol dementia:2

  • If you are male
  • If you have a dual diagnosis
  • If you have other physical conditions that increase your risk for ARD
  • If you are socially isolated
  • If you have a history of brain injury

The presence of more than one risk factor increases the chances of developing alcohol-related dementia. Generally speaking, however, anyone with an alcohol disorder is at risk. This includes people who struggle with alcohol use and addiction.

Is Alcoholic Dementia a Normal Part of Aging?

The risk for dementia increases as you grow old. But contrary to popular belief, it isnt a normal part of aging.10

For instance, the average older adult may forget things from time to time. In comparison, someone with dementia will slowly forget how it’s like to perform basic activities.

At most, the memory problems caused by normal aging will inconvenience you. Dementia impairs cognitive ability in a way that it becomes difficult to function properly.

Summing Up Marijuana And Dementia

So, does marijuana cause or help dementia? Maybe both. There are studies showing that marijuana could have a beneficial effect on people with dementia, but more research is needed. At the same time, there is also research showing that the long-term use of marijuana can leave a person more susceptible to developing Alzheimers.

It is possible that this paradox exists because trials showing marijuanas effects on dementia involve substances that are controlled by researchers. On the other hand, research showing that marijuana users are at increased risk of dementia involves recreational drug use instead of drug use in a controlled laboratory setting.

Though some research suggests that marijuana may have a role in treating dementia, there is evidence that this drug can also harm the brain and make a person more susceptible to developing this condition. Additional research is needed, especially studies involving humans, to determine marijuanas role in dementia.

If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana abuse, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for your situation.

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Strengths And Limitations Of This Study

The present study has several strengths. Repeat assessment of alcohol consumption allowed us to assess mean midlife alcohol consumption in order to minimise biases due to measurement error, examine associations with dementia of trajectories of alcohol consumption between midlife and early old age, and examine whether age modifies associations between alcohol consumption and dementia. These features, along with a mean follow-up period of 23 years, allowed a comprehensive assessment of the association of alcohol consumption with dementia. Besides measurement error, studies that recruit participants at older ages are not able to assess the excess risk in those who change their alcohol consumption with age. We were also able to examine the shape of the association between alcohol consumption > 14 units/week and dementia, which was similar to that reported in a recent meta-analysis.7 Dose-response assessment by meta-analysis can be problematic for heavy alcohol consumption as the estimate is constrained to the mean or median consumption in the high alcohol consumption category.7 Finally, we used multistate models to examine the role of cardiometabolic disease and we undertook further analyses to take the competing risk of mortality into account where results were similar to those obtained using Cox regression, increasing confidence in our main findings.

The Stigma Behind Alcohol

When forgetfulness is a problem

The second problem is that its not easy to talk about alcohol-induced dementia because there is a stigma associated with addiction and with mental health. In my own family, my Dads alcoholism was something that growing up I desperately tried to hide from friends, coworkers, teachers and extended family.

Now, when I tell people my Dad has dementia, I tend to leave out the alcohol part. When we talk to the doctors treating the unique element of this form of dementia knowing that there is some accountability on his part complicates treatment.

But, once you begin talking about it, it becomes easier. You eventually meet other people who are going through something similar. Remember those statistics about Americans and alcoholism?

While scientists have yet to determine why some alcoholics develop alcohol-induced dementia and some dont, theres no doubt that this health issue will continue to grow as alcoholism amongst American seniors continues to skyrocket.

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What To Do If A Family Member Is Using These Medications

Many medicines mentioned above are a part of the regime for a lot of elderly or mid-aged patients.

Now that we know that anticholinergic and benzodiazepines medication use and incident dementia are related, it is important not to panic if you notice a medicine in a family member’s routine, which comes under the class of medications that can worsen dementia. Often, individuals abruptly stop their medications, leading to other problems that can turn into a disease in the long term. Always consult the doctor and put forward your concerns before you stop taking prescribed medicine. Ask them to review the prescription and list alternatives. Moreover, medical tests for dementia can help with diagnosis.

In the case of over-the-counter medications, usually, anticholinergics can be stopped without the consultation of a doctor. However, using alternatives is a must because therapy cannot be terminated. For example, over-the-counter sleeping pills are strongly anticholinergic, and anticholinergic medications and dementia are linked. The therapy can be concluded if the patient exhibits symptoms of dementia or the condition declines. However, other therapeutic measures must be employed.

Tips For Managing Dementia And Alcohol Abuse

1. Remove all alcohol from the environment

  • Clear out all the alcohol in the home, including cough syrup and other innocent sources
  • Make sure all family and friends know not to buy or bring any alcohol
  • Notify liquor or grocery stores not to deliver alcohol
  • If necessary, restrict access to money that can be used to buy alcohol

Important:Before removing alcohol, check with your older adults doctor to make sure you wont be causing any harm to their health. In some cases, people may experience severe withdrawal or other unintended side effects.

2. Substitute non-alcoholic wine or beerSome people may be at a point in the dementia where they wouldnt notice if their regular drinks were replaced with non-alcoholic or low-alcohol versions.

For wine, you could even disguise the swap by using a regular wine bottle and replacing the contents with non-alcoholic wine.

3. Take safety measures

  • Remove or lock away sharp objects and weapons to prevent injury
  • Secure doors or add door alarms to prevent accidental wandering
  • Lock away cleaning supplies and other toxic liquids they could be confused with drinks

4. Protect yourselfAlcoholism and dementia are two serious conditions that cause angry outbursts or violent behavior in some people. Together, they can cause even worse behavior.

Thats why its important to know your limits and make sure that the situation is safe. If your older adult becomes overly aggressive or violent, its time to remove yourself and seek professional help.

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Results Differed By Sex

The study also showed that the average age of dementia onset differed between men and women. Men were more likely to develop it a younger age and women at an older age.

Gender differences on dementia onset have been puzzling for decades, Schwarzinger said. Men have a poorer lifestyle than women on average, in particular heavier alcohol consumption. Therefore, it is somewhat unsurprising that early-onset dementia identifies a cluster of men with alcohol use disorders.

The gender difference could also result from the studys methodology, according to Lyketsos.

That was one of the reasons Im a little concerned about selection bias, he said. There could be a gender effect on who goes to the hospital with dementia.

Alcohol use was also not objectively measured in the participants, one of the studys main limitations.

We have no idea what is the level of drinks they were actually drinking, Schwarzinger added. That kind of information you can only get in a cohort study with a questionnaire.

Medical Testing For Alcohol Dementia

Alcohol & Alzheimer’s Dementia Risk: Does Moderate Drinking Help Or Hurt?

The muscular and nervous system of an individual suffering from ARD functions differently from that of a regular person. There are several methods to test for alcoholic dementia. The functionality of the muscular and nervous system can unveil the possibility of alcohol dementia, while the nutritional status of a person can also be helpful in determining the results.

Some of the Tests that Can be Conducted to Diagnose Alcoholic Dementia are:

  • Liver enzyme testing
  • Transketolase activity and Vitamin B1 availability
  • Muscular and nervous system check inclusive of increased pulse, low blood pressure, abnormal eye movement, and muscular weakness
  • Poor reflexes
  • Fast pulse
  • Lack of coordination

It may be a bit difficult to detect its early stage in the elderly as its signs may be similar to issues that may occur with aging. An early diagnosis is important for effective treatment.

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Alcohol Consumption After Dementia

People who have a form of dementia, whether caused by alcohol use disorder or not, are likely to suffer more serious memory loss if they consume alcohol. In part, this is caused by reactions between dementia medications, other medications for other ailments, and alcohol. It can also be caused by alcohol itself, especially in the later stages of dementia. Senior citizens who binge drank twice per month were 147 percent were more likely to experience cognitive decline and 146 percent more likely to have more memory problems compared to those who did not drink.

Is There A Treatment Or Cure

While theres no cure, and most forms of dementia are irreversible,2 alcohol-related dementia is an exception.1

If the disease is diagnosed early enough, symptoms may be improved or reversed if the person stops drinking alcohol and starts replacing thiamine in the body.1

To reduce the risk of all health problems related to alcohol, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia recommends adults drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week.10

If youre worried about a friend or family member who is experiencing memory problems, confusion and/or personality changes, take them to see their doctor or a medical professional.

Early dementia diagnosis can help the person and their family understand, manage and treat the condition.

For more information on dementia and alcohol-related dementia, visit Dementia Australia.

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What Is Alcoholic Dementia

Dementia is a brain disorder that causes a progressive loss of cognitive function. It affects memory and impairs your ability to think and make decisions. Often, it gets to the point where it interferes with your daily life.

Alcohol-related dementia , also known as alcoholic dementia and alcohol-induced dementia, is an umbrella term for any dementia caused by heavy drinking. Some examples of alcohol dementia are:

  • Alzheimers disease the most common type which, accounts for up to 80% of cases
  • Vascular dementia caused by decreased blood flow to the brain
  • Wernicke Encephalopathy primarily affects the central nervous system
  • Korsakoff Syndrome causes memory problems and psychiatric symptoms
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome has the symptomatic features of WE and KS

Numerous studies explore the link between alcohol and dementia. According to French research, alcohol is associated with 38.9 percent of early-onset dementia cases, and 17.6 percent of dementia patients had alcohol use disorders.1

How Does Dementia Progress

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Dementia is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of multiple diseases, of which the most common is Alzheimer’s disease.

The brain is a complex structure that is responsible for regulating almost every single function of the body. Physical changes such as the buildup of proteins, low supply of red blood cells or alpha-synuclein clumps in the brain structure can impair cognitive function, leading to the development and progression of dementia. However, you can slow down dementia with medication.

Stages of Dementia:

Dementia is a progressive disease, which means once developed, it never stops advancing and continues to escalate in severity until the patient’s death. Research is currently underway to discover dementia prevention medication.

The symptoms and stages of dementia are:

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Associations Between Alcohol Use And The Incidence Of Cognitive Impairment/dementia Including Dose

The systematic reviews published after 2000 which studied the associations between alcohol use and the incidence of cognitive impairment or dementia were often coupled with meta-analytic summaries, typically based on cohort studies which primarily measured the effect of other modifiable risk factors, usually measured at baseline , on the hazard or risk of being diagnosed with cognitive impairment or dementia or dying from dementia. See Table for a summary of these reviews.

The majority of these systematic reviews indicated that there was a statistically significant association between light to moderate alcohol use and a lower risk of being diagnosed with cognitive impairment and different types of dementia and dying from dementia. However, two systematic reviews found inconsistent results . Furthermore, chronic heavy alcohol use was associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with either cognitive impairment or dementia. There also was an association found between engaging in irregular heavy drinking and the risk of being diagnosed with either cognitive impairment or dementia . In several reviews , the potential of an interaction between alcohol use and the presence or absence of the apolipoprotein E 4 allele and the resulting risk of either cognitive impairment or dementia was also examined, albeit based on a limited number of studies with substantial heterogeneity .

Talking About Alcohol Consumption Can Help

It can be very difficult to diagnose alcohol-related dementia. If a doctor is unaware of the person drinking too much alcohol over many years, they may not consider alcohol-related dementia as a possible diagnosis. The person may not get the right treatment and support, which is why it is important to tell doctors about drinking too much alcohol.

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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.

What Is Alcohol Dementia How Can Ard Be Treated

Can Alcohol Abuse Cause Dementia?

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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Treatment & Outlook For Alcohol Use Disorders & Dementia

Treatment for conditions such as alcohol-related dementia or WKS may involve rehabilitation, high doses of thiamine daily, and more. Although WKS may involve some types of irreversible changes in the structure of the brain, it offers promising prognoses with the proper treatment. Evidence suggests that 25% of those who develop Korsakoff syndrome and get treatment recovery fully, about half improve but dont completely recover, and around 25% remain unchanged in the severity of their WKS diagnosis.

If you or a loved one are looking for alcohol use disorder treatment, American Addiction Centers offers various nationwide treatment facilities specializing in the treatment of AUD and other substance use disorders.

Halting The Progression Of Cognitive Decline

In both ARD and WKS, alcohol abstinence can lead to significant improvement. Alcohol abstinence, good nutrition , adequate sleep and activity, and peer support may help someone with ARD avoid further decline. In addition, one study found beneficial effects of treatment with memantine. With such an approach, Terry might be successful in halting the progression of cognitive decline and reclaiming a more satisfying life.

  • Resources

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Excessive Alcohol Use Linked To Early

Research involved more than 1 million adult patients released from hospitals in France

Alcohol abuse was also associated with vascular risk factors, including high blood pressure

Excessive alcohol use could increase your risk for all types of dementia, particularly early-onset dementia, according to a new study.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Lancet Public Health, looked at over 1 million adults released from French hospitals between 2008 and 2013 who were diagnosed with dementia, a clinical syndrome characterized by a progressive deterioration in cognitive ability.

Using data from the French National Hospital Discharge database, the researchers found that alcohol-use disorders were diagnosed in 16.5% of the men with dementia and 4% of the women with dementia over twice as much as in those without dementia for both sexes.

Alcohol-use disorders refer to the chronic harmful use of alcohol or alcohol dependence, the researchers wrote.

In order to isolate the role of alcohol use, patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinsons and Huntingtons, which can also lead to dementia, were excluded from the study.

The most novel result is the large contribution of alcohol-use disorders to the burden of dementia over the lifespan, said Dr. Michael Schwarzinger, a researcher at the Transitional Health Economics Network in Paris and a leading author of the study.


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