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What Is Dementia Caused By Alcohol

Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People

What Is Alcohol Dementia? | Alcoholism

Existing health inequalities put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at increased risk of dementia, with higher rates of chronic diseases, and alcohol and tobacco use in Indigenous communities.7

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are three to five times more likely to develop dementia than non-Indigenous Australians, and this is likely under-reported.8

Dementia is viewed differently in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Its not always seen as a medical condition. It can go undiagnosed and overlooked due to the many other chronic health issues Indigenous people face.9

The lack of culturally sensitive screening tools and delays in diagnosis mean Indigenous people with dementia and their families face barriers to accessing medical treatment, information and support.9

Korsakoff Syndrome: A Little Known Big

Korsakoff Syndrome belongs to a family of disorders known as Alcohol-related brain damage . Simply put, ARBD may happen when someone over-indulges in adult beverages over a course of years.

Korsakoff syndrome is specifically related to an extreme deficiency of vitamin B-1, which is also known as thiamine. While there can be other causes, Korsakoff syndrome typically results from alcohol abuse.

Thiamine plays a vital role in helping brain cells create energy. Without enough thiamine, the brain is unable to produce the energy thats necessary for someone to function efficiently.

Is Alcoholic Dementia Treatable What Are The Options

The best treatment for alcoholic dementia is total abstinence. If the person is still addicted to alcohol, treatment for the addiction is the first step, and many forms of help are available.

Alcohol addiction treatment begins with detoxification . A variety of sedative drugs can help manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Medications used to treat alcohol addiction include:

  • Naltrexone

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Stigma Behind Alcohol Dementia:

One of the most serious complication of alcohol dementia is actually, the stigma behind alcohol dementia. There is a stigma associated with alcohol addiction and also with the mental health. It becomes difficult to share or discuss about the problem with others and even with the doctor. However, it becomes easier when once discussed with the doctor.

Interventions And Support For People With Alcohol Related Brain Damage

What is Alcohol Dementia

If the excessive consumption of alcohol is stopped and vitamin B1 levels increase, about 25% of cases recover completely, 50% of the cases show a partial recovery with some degree of damage and 25% of the cases diagnosed progress with damage to the brain and nervous system and may need long term care eventually.

People who are drinking excessively should have a gradual withdrawal of alcohol as suddenly stopping or rapidly reducing the intake may lead to: tremors, delirium, sweating, hallucinations, depression, anxiety and insomnia.

The person who is drinking alcohol to excess should see their GP for assessment of the issue and for referral for treatments and services available to treat the alcohol misuse. The GP may refer the person for managed withdrawal of alcohol, counselling and prescribe medication to stop the withdrawal symptoms and reduce the urge to drink alcohol. They may also advise that the person attend a local self-help group. In addition if the GP suspects that there may be cognitive damage they may refer the person for an assessment of the cognitive damage and for ongoing support if needed.

If alcohol related brain damage is diagnosed, the person and the family should be assisted to:

  • devise an individualised plan focusing on strengths and interests
  • follow guidance to remain alcohol free
  • attend a self-help group
  • eat a healthy balanced diet high in thiamine and take a vitamin supplement if required

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How Exactly Can Alcohol Lead To Dementia

Any sort of brain damage or dementia that directly died to an alcohol-related condition is considered alcohol-related brain damage or ARBD. When a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol they are actively preventing the neurons in the brain from regenerating, thus killing them off. Over time, killing off enough of those neurons can lead to brain damage, including memory loss and other symptoms associated with dementia.

While many people associate dementia with those who are older, ARBD is becoming more and more common amongst those who are middle-aged with middle-aged women being the largest affected demographic. This is largely due to the differences in their body fat composition, height-to-weight ratio, and their hormones.

Just like Alzheimers and other more traditional forms of dementia, alcohol-related brain damage produces similar symptoms due to how alcohol affects the cholinergic system which plays an important role in memory.

Dementia And Alcohol Is There A Connection

Most people associate dementia and diseases like Alzheimers with ageing. But the association between dementia and heavy long-term alcohol use is less known.1

Dementia refers to a range of symptoms and diseases that affect brain function. Its the second leading cause of death in Australia, after heart disease.2

The causes of dementia are not fully known. However, ageing, smoking, high cholesterol and blood pressure, poor diet, cardiovascular disease and diabetes all increase your risk.1

Heavy and frequent alcohol use can cause many chronic health conditions, including Alzheimers disease, cancers, heart disease and diabetes. It can also cause alcohol-related dementia.3

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Signs And Symptoms Of Korsakoff Syndrome

Korsakoff syndrome causes chronic memory loss. People living with KS find it difficult to handle day-to-day activities. If your loved one has KS, you might see them struggle with learning something new. You may also notice changes in their personality, or see them become apathetic about things they once cared about.

It is also not uncommon for people with the disorder to make something up and present it as the truth. Just know that this is not intentional, but that their brains are trying to make sense of memory gaps. They are not consciously making things up. Doctors call this behavior confabulation.

Are There Ways To Test For Alcohol

Is alcohol the leading cause of 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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Risk Factors For Korsakoffs Syndrome

You are more likely to be at risk of developing Korsakoffs syndrome if

  • You have been drinking in a harmful way for 5 or more years.
  • You are drinking 28 or more standard drinks per week on a regular basis.
  • You have had frequent memory blackouts while drinking.
  • You are over the age of 35.
  • You have had alcohol-related liver damage.
  • You dont eat enough while drinking.
  • You have been admitted to hospital because of your drinking.

Causes Of Alcohol Dementia:

We already know that excessive consumption of alcohol for a long period of time can cause alcohol dementia. One of the reasons behind this is that of nutrition. Excess of alcohol can result in a nutritional loss. Thiamine or Vitamin B1, is a vitamin that suffers when an individual consume alcohol for a long time. Alcohol can actually prevent the absorption of Vitamin B1 in the body, that leads to alcohol dementia. Our nerve cells require thiamine to function, and a chronic lack of thiamine results in the problem of dementia.

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How Much Is Too Much

The relationship between the amount of alcohol use and cognitive outcomes is complicated by differing definitions of drinking levels in the literature, and this complication relates in part to the varying definitions of a ‘standard drink’ from country to country. For example, a standard drink in the United Kingdom contains a relatively low 8 grams of alcohol, compared with 10 grams in Australia, 14 grams in the US, and 19.75 grams in Japan .

‘High’ levels of alcohol consumption can range from 10 ‘standard’ drinks a week to more than 9 ‘standard’ drinks a day . Reduced frontal lobe volume has been associated with an amount of 418 grams a week but has not correlated with lower levels of consumption . One review suggested that consumption of five to six drinks per day over extended periods results in ‘cognitive inefficiencies’, while consumption of 10 or more standard drinks a day manifests as moderate cognitive deficits equivalent to that found in individuals with diagnosed alcoholism .

General Effects Of Alcohol In Neurodegeneration

Alcohol Dementia Signs &  Symptoms

Although most of our understanding of the mechanisms by which alcohol impacts neurodegeneration have been gleaned from studies in the most common neurodegenerative diseases, some preliminary work has been done in rare neurodegenerative disease models and clinical cases as well. Thus, we will briefly review the mechanisms of alcohol-induced neuronal damage that have been revealed in common neurodegenerative diseases, and the applicability of these mechanisms to the rare neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, we will explore the work that has been done to better understand the role of alcohol, specifically in each rare neurodegenerative disease.

FIGURE 4. Alcohol acts through diverse signaling pathways, including oxidative stress, to increase neuroinflammation and reduce both autophagic and cytophagic clearance of toxic protein species that contribute to neurodegeneration. At the same time, alcohol alters the expression and activity of epigenetic proteins axis, leading to long-term increases in circulating cortisol.

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Moderate Drinking Vs Alcohol Use Disorder

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , moderate drinking means having up to one drink in one day for women and having up to two drinks in one day for men.

A standard drink is any beverage containing roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which includes:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer
  • 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of unfortified wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor

If you feel unable to drink in moderation, you may be struggling with alcohol use disorder. Other signs of this condition include:

  • needing to drink more over time to feel the desired effects
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you dont drink alcohol
  • avoiding people and/or activities you once valued so you can spend more time drinking alcohol
  • falling behind at work or school due to your alcohol consumption

What Is The Connection Between Alcohol

As we touched on above, both alcohol-related dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome are two forms of alcohol-related brain damage. The biggest difference between the two is the speed at which the damage occurs and the cause.

While alcohol-related dementia is a more long-term ailment with it setting in gradually over time as the brain becomes more and more damaged as a result of more and more of the neurons being killed off, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is much faster acting.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome tends to set in either during or right after detoxing occurs. However, the chances of the syndrome developing decreases greatly if detox is done under the care and supervision of a trained medical professional.

Like alcohol-related dementia, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome produces many of the same symptoms including:

  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Lack of balance

Additionally, people suffering from Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome might also experience things like extreme weight loss and eye muscle jerks or paralysis. When Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome sets in, it can lead to permanent brain damage that isnt likely to reverse even if you stay sober for years.

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What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Dementia

The signs of alcoholic dementia a person exhibits may vary depending on the type of alcohol dementia they have. Some common signs of alcohol dementia include:

  • Unexplained changes in personality or character
  • Lying without realizing it
  • Problems with motor movement and coordination
  • Loss of speech
  • Getting lost on familiar paths
  • Difficulties completing simple tasks, like following a cooking recipe
  • Confusion regarding the place or time the person is in
  • Difficulties appropriately stringing sentences or words together

Alcohol dementia attacks more than just a persons memory. This is one of the many diseases caused by alcohol that can ruin a persons life. If you have a drinking problem, do not wait until its too late to get help. Call Banyan Treatment Centers Texas at to learn how our alcohol and drug treatment facility in Texas can help restore your sobriety.

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Alcoholic Dementia Can Alcohol Use Cause Dementia

Does Alcohol Consumption Cause Dementia?

Alcohol use can cause several health complications. When a person drinks heavily for an extended period of time, he or she is at risk for a condition known as alcoholic dementia. Seeking treatment through a program like the ones offered at Vertava Health is the best way to prevent alcoholic dementia and other health problems as a result of alcohol use and addiction.

Chronic alcohol use can result in a number of health problems, including a condition known as alcoholic dementia. This condition is similar to Alzheimers disease and can severely impact a persons memory, cognition, and learning abilities. Individuals who use or are addicted to alcohol may need to seek treatment such as through an inpatient program offered by Vertava Health to avoid developing alcoholic dementia.

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Common Symptoms Of Alcoholic Dementia

Alcoholic induced dementia, not unlike Korsakoffs syndrome, relates primarily to problems associated with an individuals brain and its functions. The majority of early symptoms would hardly be noticed by anyone who wasnt a professional. This can result in alcoholic dementia severely taking hold of the individuals brain before any medical help has been introduced. These symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Becoming too impulsive, poor decision making or risk assessments (e.g. related to financial decisions.
  • Difficulty controlling all forms of emotions
  • Poor organisation or planning skills
  • Suffer from paying attention even for a couple of minutes and often become slower when responding
  • Lack of or no sensitivity towards other peoples feelings
  • Indulging in inappropriate social behaviour
  • Loss of everyday memory
  • Personality changes
  • Severe problems with balance

General life skills that are learnt in the first three years of life, such as gestures and language genuinely stay unaffected but will take a little longer to complete, for example understand what an individual has said, to think of a logical response, to communicating the response back.

Potentially Positive Effects Of Alcohol On The Central Nervous System

A variety of positive effects on alcohol on the central nervous system have been suggested, mainly by reducing cardiovascular risk factors. Robust evidence exists for elevated high-density lipoprotein cholesterol blood levels, even exceeding the effect of drugs prescribed for dyslipidemia. The coagulation cascade is modulated by alcohol intake through down-regulation of fibrinogen, a substrate of blood clot formation. In vitro experiments show an inhibition of platelet aggregation., High alcohol consumption leads to higher blood pressure, while low to moderate consumption has no effect., The definition of one standard drink and consecutively, the definition of low-risk consumption varies in-between countries. In the references cited, the US-American definition is used: one drink equals 14 g of pure alcohol. Nevertheless, any alleged positive aspects of drinking on cardiovascular risk factors must be weighed against seriously harmful effects, including changes in circulation, inflammatory response, oxidative stress, as well as anatomical damage to the cardiovascular system, especially the heart itself.

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How Does Korsakoffs Syndrome Develop

Korsakoffs syndrome is associated with a lack of vitamin B1 within the system. Thiamine helps brain cells to produce energy and therefore, when levels of thiamine drop, brain cells are unable to generate enough energy to function properly. This results in the development of Korsakoffs syndrome and the associated symptoms and problems. Whilst alcoholism is the main cause of this deficiency, it is also possible for other conditions to result in a lack of thiamine within the system and as such, may also lead to Korsakoffs syndrome. These conditions include:

  • Anorexia and bulimia nervosa
  • Cancer that has spread throughout the body
  • Extreme vomiting during pregnancy

Korsakoffs syndrome usually develops alongside a condition that is known as Wernicke encephalopathy, which is another illness that is caused by vitamin B1 deficiency. Individuals usually experience Wernicke encephalopathy first, and the symptoms of Korsakoffs syndrome typically appear as the Wernicke encephalopathy symptoms subside.

What Is Alcohol Related Dementia

Dementia syndromes associated with the consumption of ...

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.

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What Is Alcoholic Dementia

Alcoholic dementia involves memory loss and a variety of other cognitive impairments.

Both short- and long-term memory is affected by alcoholic dementia. This means its challenging to learn new information and remember things already learned.

Along with memory issues, there are a host of other cognitive issues.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the official handbook used by the American Psychiatric Association.

According to the DSM-V, a person with alcoholic dementia may exhibit memory impairment and one or more of these cognitive impairments1:

  • Aphasia Loss of ability to use or understand spoken or written language
  • Inability to perform specific physical actions despite will and knowledge to do so and relevant muscles being intact
  • Agnosia Failure to recognize individuals, objects, or sounds, despite senses being functional
  • Executive Functioning Deficits Impaired ability to plan, organize, or think abstractly

Aphasia seems to be less common with alcoholic dementia compared to other dementias.9

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.

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