Beriberi Disease

Beriberi Disease

Beriberi is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1. This disease is generally characterized by swelling in the limbs, palpitations, and shortness of breath.

Beriberi is a disease that attacks the nervous system and circulatory system , and is more common in children aged 1–4 years. This disease can actually be prevented by meeting the daily requirement of vitamin B1.

Causes of Beriberi Disease

Beriberi disease occurs when the body lacks vitamin B1 (thiamine). The body needs vitamin B1 to produce and deliver energy to the body's cells. Low levels of vitamin B1 make the body lack energy, causing problems with the heart and blood circulation, as well as the nervous system.

Babies who drink breast milk or milk with low levels of thiamine are at risk for beriberi. Apart from that, there are other conditions that can cause a lack of thiamine levels in the body, namely:

  • Often consume milled rice (without skin) which is low in thiamine levels
  • Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Rarely consume foods rich in thiamine, such as poultry and nuts
  • Suffering from hyperthyroidism or excessive levels of thyroid hormone in the blood
  • Suffering from chronic kidney failure and undergoing dialysis (hemodialysis)
  • Suffering from HIV/AIDS
  • Experiencing side effects from bariatric surgery
  • Experiencing drastic weight loss
  • Excessive nausea and vomiting during pregnancy ( hypermesis gravidarum )
  • Taking diuretic drugs in the long term
  • Suffer from a genetic disorder that makes it difficult for the body to absorb thiamine

Symptoms of Beriberi Disease

There are three types of beriberi: wet beriberi, dry beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome . Each of these types has different symptoms. Here's the explanation:

Symptoms of wet beriberi

Wet beriberi attacks the heart and circulatory system. This disorder can be characterized by complaints in the form of:

  • The limbs swell
  • Heart beat
  • Shortness of breath during physical activity or even when you just wake up

Symptoms of dry beriberi

Dry beriberi can damage nerves and decrease the function of the body's muscles. This disorder can be characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Hands and feet tingling or numb
  • Body aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Eyes move uncontrollably
  • Confused and confused ( delirium )
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty walking, even paralyzed

Symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is brain damage caused by severe thiamine deficiency or severe beriberi. This syndrome is generally characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Reduced memory ability
  • The coordination of the body's muscles decreases
  • Impaired vision
  • Confusion and daze
  • Hallucinations

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you experience the symptoms of beriberi as mentioned above. Treatment must be given immediately to prevent complications.

The risk of beriberi disease occurs in pregnant women who experience hyperemesis gravidarum, namely excessive nausea and vomiting to dehydration . If you experience these complaints, immediately consult a doctor to control the condition and anticipate the possibility of beriberi.

Kidney failure patients who are undergoing dialysis are also advised to see a doctor regularly. This is done to monitor the progress of the disease and prevent complications that may arise, such as beriberi.

Diagnosis of beriberi

The doctor will ask about the patient's complaints. Furthermore, the doctor will carry out a physical examination to determine the coordination ability of the body's muscles, as well as detect swelling, respiratory disorders, and the patient's heart condition.

During the examination, the doctor will also ask about the patient's lifestyle and diet to help get a diagnosis. If the patient is suspected of having beriberi, the doctor can perform a number of the following supporting tests:

  • Urine test, to check the levels of thiamine released by the body
  • Blood test, to check the level of thiamine in the blood
  • Ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography) , to check the ability of the muscles to abnormalities in the heart organ
  • Brain scan with MRI or CT scan and EEG, to detect damage in the brain, especially if the patient has Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Treatment of beriberi

Treatment for beriberi aims to normalize vitamin B1 levels in the body. Treatment is carried out by administering supplemental tablets or injections containing vitamin B1 until the symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency subside.

Doctors will advise patients to increase their intake of foods rich in vitamin B1, such as dairy products, poultry, eggs and nuts. Doctors will also treat other conditions that accompany beriberi, such as impaired heart or nervous system function.

During the treatment period, patients are advised to have regular blood tests to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment given.

Most patients can recover with the above treatment methods. However, if the disease is serious enough, for example, you have Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, the patient needs further treatment in order to recover. This is because some of the symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can be permanent, making it difficult to treat.

Complications of Beriberi Disease

If left without treatment, beriberi can cause several complications, such as:

  • Psychotic disorder
  • Heart failure
  • Coma

In patients affected by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, permanent brain damage can also occur.

Prevention of beriberi

Adopting a balanced diet rich in vitamins, especially vitamin B1, is an important step in preventing beriberi. Here are some servings rich in vitamin B1 that can be included in your daily diet:

  • Red meat, fish, poultry and eggs
  • Legumes, such as peanuts, beans, peas
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice , oats, and corn
  • Milk and its processed products, such as cheese and yogurt
  • Vegetables, such as spinach and cabbage

In addition to improving your daily diet, avoid a number of conditions that make a person more at risk for beriberi. This can be done in several ways, including:

  • Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Exercise regularly and maintain ideal body weight
  • Ensuring the content of vitamin B1 in formula milk, especially for mothers who have children who consume formula milk
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