Beri-Beri/Thiamine Deficiency/Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Beriberi is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin B1 i.e. thiamine in the body. It occurs in anyone who is poorly nourished; it is very rare in the people who take good nutrition.
This disease generally affects the cardiovascular system or the nervous system. The neurologic symptoms can leads to psychosis, confusion and hallucinations.



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Classification of Beri-Beri

• Dry beriberi: Thiamine deficiency where nervous system involved in it. Dry beriberi occurs when poor caloric intake and relative physical inactivity are present. Neurological involvement shoe sequence of symptoms like vomiting, horizontal nystagmus, palsies of the eye movements, fever, ataxia and progressive mental impairment leading to korsakoff syndrome.

• Wet beriberi: It is characterized by thiamine deficiency with cardiovascular involvement.

What Are Causing Factors ?

• Lack of thiamine
• Alcoholism
• Hereditary
• Brain disorders like Wernicke-korsakoff syndrome
• Vitamin B deficiency
• Lack of nutrition
• Poisoning in few cases causes beriberi

Beri-Beri Signs and Symptoms

• Gastrointestinal system: Characterized by loss of appetite, indigestion, severe constipation and lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

• Nervous system: Early deficiency shows symptoms like fatigue, irritability and poor memory.If deficiency continues there is damage to the peripheral nerves and causes loss of sensation and muscle weakness.

• Cardiovascular system: There are a rapid heartbeat and sweating.Eventually, the heart muscles weaken and thus there is relax veins causing swelling and edema in the legs.

• Musculoskeletal system: Its widespread muscle pain caused by lack of thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) in the muscle tissue.
• Difficulty walking
• Severe lethargy
• Fatigue
• Weight loss
• Emotional disturbances
• Impaired sensory perception
• Weakness and pain in the limbs
• Periods of irregular heart rate
• Pain, tingling
• Vomiting
• Strange eye movements
• Loss of muscle function or paralysis of the lower legs
• Increased heart rate
• Shortness of breath with activity
• Awakening at night shortening of breath.
• Rapid heartbeat
• Foot drop
• Aphonia

Investigations for Beri-Beri

• Complete case history
• Physical examination
• Biochemical tests to detect thiamine deficiency
• Blood thiamine level
• Urine test
• Drooping of the eyelids
• Coordination problems
• Change in walk
• Fluid in the lungs
• Enlargement of heart
• Whole blood or red blood cell transketolase activity

Mode Of Treatment for Beri-Beri

• High dose of thiamine injection.
• Vitamin B treatment
• Diuretics
• Heart-strengthening drugs
• Physical therapy
• Antacids
• Swelling in both lower legs

Prognosis of Beri-Beri

Beriberi is fatal if not treated and the longer the deficiency exists the sicker the person becomes.
Full recovery is possible with balanced diet and vitamin supplements.

Complications of Beri-Beri

• Congestive heart failure
• Memory loss
• Psychotic episodes
• Unconsciousness
• Coma
• Death

Dietary Habits May Help

• Whole-grain foods
• Meat/fish/poultry/eggs
• Milk and milk products
• Vegetables such as green leafy vegetables, beans, potatoes
• Legumes like lentils, soybeans, nuts, seeds
• Orange and tomato juices.
• Thiaminases containing foods such as milled rice, shrimp, mussels, clams, fresh fish and raw animal tissue.

• Vitamin supplements
• Balance diet
• Quit junk food, candy, and high carbohydrate food.
• Take proper rest
• Do not overcook or overheat food
• Quit alcohol

Homeopathic treatment for Beri-Beri

Elaterium officinarum:
• Suited for certain forms of dropsy, beriberi
• Choleraic conditions
• Violent vomiting and purging with copious forceful watery, olive green bilious or frothy evacuation.
• Chilliness with much yawning and stretching
• Irresistible desire to wander from home to home at night
• Worse damp weather, standing on the damp ground.

Lathyrus sativus:
• Paralytic affections of the lower extremities; spastic paralysis; infantile paralysis.
• Beriberi
• After influenza and wasting exhaustive disease where there are much weakness and heaviness
• Slow recovery of nerve power
• Sleepy, constant yawning.
• Depressed, vertigo when standing with eyes closed.
• Excessive rigidity of legs, spastic gait
• Patient sit bent forward, straightens with difficulty

Strychnia phosphorica:
• Beriberi
• Swelling and burning causing twitching, stiffness, weakness, and loss of power
• Uncontrollable desire to laugh
• Burning sensation occurs in the nerves
• Worse from motion
• Better by rest and in open air

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