Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Alcohol-Related Neurologic Disease

Alcohol-related neurologic disease is a range of conditions caused by alcohol intake. Alcohol is often consumed as a social beverage, but it’s considered a poisonous chemical. Drinking too much alcohol can have devastating effects on the body. In particular, alcohol has a significant negative effect on nerves and muscle cells.

Aside from intoxication, or drunkenness, drinking alcohol can cause other conditions, including:
  • memory loss
  • seizures
  • headaches
  • blackouts
  • incoordination
  • dehydration
  • death
Long-term abuse can damage the nervous system, liver, and other organs. This damage may be irreversible. Drinking too much alcohol can also alter levels of certain nutrients in your body, including:
  • thiamine, or vitamin B-1
  • folate, or vitamin B-9
  • vitamins B-6 and B-12
These vitamins are needed for proper nerve function. A poor diet can make problems even worse.
Alcohol-related neurologic disease includes the following conditions:
Women are more susceptible than men to many of the negative consequences of alcohol use, such as nerve damage.
Moderate drinking is probably safe for most people. But the best way to prevent alcohol-related neurologic disease is to avoid it.
Alcohol abuse can have many direct and indirect effects on the brain and nervous system. Examples of neurologic disease caused by alcohol, along with their symptoms, include:

Wernicke-Korsakoff disease (WKS)

This condition is caused by brain damage due to a thiamine, or vitamin B1, deficiency. Thiamine deficiency is common in people who misuse alcohol. There are two different WKS syndromes:
Wernicke’s encephalopathy is severe and short-lived. Symptoms include:
  • mental confusion
  • poor muscle coordination
  • paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes
Korsakoff psychosis is long-lasting, or chronic. It usually develops as Wernicke's symptoms go away. Symptoms may include:
  • problems with learning and memory, including amnesia
  • forgetfulness
  • poor coordination
  • difficulty walking

Alcoholic neuropathy

This condition occurs when the peripheral nerves are damaged by too much alcohol. This can be permanent. Deficiencies in B-6 and B-12, thiamine, folate, niacin, and vitamin E can make it worse. These vitamins are all needed for proper nerve function. Symptoms include:
  • numbness, tingling, and prickly sensations in the arms and legs
  • muscle spasms and cramps
  • muscle weakness
  • movement disorders
  • urinary and bowel problems like incontinence, constipation, and diarrhea
  • sexual dysfunction
  • difficulty swallowing
  • impaired speech
  • dizziness
  • vomiting and nausea

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when someone who has been drinking excessive amounts of alcohol for an extended period of time suddenly stops drinking. Symptoms can develop just five hours after the last drink and can persist for weeks. Common symptoms include:
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • mood swings
  • shakiness
  • nightmares
  • headache
  • sweating
  • nausea and vomiting
  • insomnia
A more serious version of withdrawal is called delirium tremens. This can cause:
  • confusion
  • sudden mood changes
  • hallucinations
  • fever
  • hyperthermia
  • seizures
These symptoms can occur in addition to the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcoholic cerebellar degeneration

This condition occurs when neurons in the cerebellum deteriorate and die because of the damaging effects of alcohol. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance. Symptoms may include:
  • unsteady walk
  • tremor in the trunk of the body
  • jerky movements of the arms or legs
  • slurred speech
  • rapid movements of the eyes, called nystagmus

Alcoholic myopathy

Alcohol affects muscle fibers causing alcoholic myopathy. Drinking too much alcohol over time can weaken the muscles. This condition can be acute or chronic. Symptoms include:
  • muscle weakness
  • atrophy (decrease in muscle mass, also called muscle wasting)
  • muscle cramps
  • stiffness
  • spasms

Fetal alcohol syndrome

Fetal alcohol syndrome occurs when a woman drinks alcohol while she is pregnant. Risks for the baby include brain damage and developmental, cognitive, and behavioral issues. These issues can appear at any time during childhood. No amount of alcohol is safe to drink while pregnant.
Source: healthline.com
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