What is alcohol induced dementia? Alcoholic dementia, also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, is the result of many years heavy drinking.
Alcohol is a drug, and like any drug, it affects the brain and nervous system. In the short term, a heavy drinker may suffer from poor judgment and memory problems, but if excessive drinking takes place over a long period of time, alcoholism can cause all kinds of damage to the brain.
What Symptoms of Alcohol Induced Dementia are There?
Although alcohol induced dementia is sometimes diagnosed in younger people, alcohol induced dementia in the elderly is the most common variant of the disease and it is often seen in seniors with a history of alcohol abuse.
Anyone with a long term alcohol problem is at risk of developing the symptoms of alcohol induced dementia, not only because alcohol has a direct affect on the brain and the nervous system, but because the sufferer is also likely to be affected by serious vitamin deficiencies that can lead to the symptoms of dementia.
In general, the symptoms of alcohol induced dementia are no different to many other forms of dementia. Short-term memory loss is a classic symptom of any form of dementia and patients affected by alcohol induced dementia will struggle to remember things that happened recently, yet have no problems remembering events from a long time ago.
They may also be in denial about their impaired memory and make up elaborate stories to fill in the gaps.
Memory problems are the first major indication that something could be wrong, but alcohol dementia patients will also exhibit a decline in cognitive reasoning skills.
They will probably be confused and repeat themselves continually in conversation.
They might also have problems with language, including reading and writing, plus show an inability to learn new things.
Other symptoms of alcohol dementia include anger and irritability, unstable moods and paranoia. Many patients with alcohol related dementia are unable to take care of themselves and struggle to cope with everyday tasks.
Depression is also fairly common in patients suffering from alcohol related dementia.
Alcohol Induced Dementia Treatment Options
Before alcohol induced dementia can be treated, the patient must agree to stop drinking completely.
The effects of alcohol induced dementia can be partially reversed if the disease is diagnosed quickly enough and the patient is able to stop drinking, although women tend to recover better from the effects of the disease.
However, as well as stopping drinking completely, the patient must also start eating a healthy diet and ensure that they have the correct level of vitamins and minerals in their diet, specifically B vitamins such as thiamine.
Aside from abstaining from alcohol and undertaking vitamin therapy, a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s called Memantine can also be used to treat the symptoms of alcohol related dementia.
Memantine is normally prescribed for several weeks and can help to reverse some of the cognitive decline of alcohol induced dementia.
Other types of treatment include Reminiscence Therapy, which can help patients remember forgotten memories, and physical therapy to address some of the physical symptoms of the illness.