Beriberi – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Beriberi – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments know what they are. Also, Beriberi , refers to the lack of thiamine pyrophosphate. Beriberi is a disease that can cause symptoms throughout the body, such as muscle cramps, double vision and mental confusion, being caused by a lack of vitamin B1 in the body, also known as thiamine, which is responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates in the body and production power.

Beriberi  mainly  occurs due to excessive consumption of alcohol or simple carbohydrates such as cassava, rice and refined wheat flour, so  beriberi  can also occur in people who are overweight or obese.

Beriberi is characterized by nerve, brain and heart changes  Vitamin B1 is water soluble and has important functions in the body, especially helping in the breakdown of glucose and in the structuring of the nerve sheath. The proper functioning of the brain, the relaxation of the nervous system and the strengthening of the heart muscle depend on an adequate supply of vitamin B1 . When there is a deficiency of this vitamin in the body , Beriberi appears , a disease that is rare in developed countries, where most foods are enriched with essential vitamins.

Causes of Beriberi:  Beriberi  is  caused by a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine) in the body. One of the causes of vitamin B1 deficiency is the inhibition of its absorption by the fungus Penicillium citreonigrum, but other enzymes, found in river fish, can also cause a similar deficiency.

In general, vitamin B1 deficiencies are caused by a diet lacking sources of this vitamin, low absorption of it by the intestine, prolonged diarrhea or hyperthyroidism, pregnancy and fever.

Beriberi Symptoms:  Vitamin B1 deficiency occurs after 2 or 3 months of insufficient intake of this nutrient, causing the symptoms of Beriberi , which are:

  • Lack of appetite;
  • Weakness and irritability;
  • Muscle cramps;
  • heart palpitations;
  • General malaise;
  • Constipation;
  • Memory problems;
  • Fluid retention and swelling in the legs;

In children, Beriberi  may also show symptoms of colic, vomiting , restlessness and shortness of breath. It is also important to remember that  beriberi  can also occur in overweight or obese people, who appear to be well-nourished.

Treatment of Beriberi:  Beriberi can be treated through the consumption of vitamin B1 , in an attempt to reverse its deficiency in our body. The vitamin can be given orally through supplements. The doctor may prescribe an injection or a pill. You will need to monitor progress in general through blood tests that can show how your body is absorbing the vitamin.

A specific diet of foods enriched with the vitamin may also be indicated for the treatment of beriberi  , where we can mention foods such as whole grains, eggs, meats, beets, nuts, seeds and tomato or orange juice. Try to limit foods like blanched rice, shrimp and raw meat as they make it difficult for your body to absorb Vitamin B-1 .

Beriberi  can be a serious disease, the ideal is to seek treatment as soon as possible, remembering that if the beriberi treatment is  delayed, the symptoms can become permanent.

Prevent Beriberi: To prevent beriberi , it is necessary for the person subject to the disease to maintain a diet followed by a healthy and balanced diet, focused on foods rich in thiamine. In the case of pregnant and lactating women, they should carefully analyze whether they have any vitamin deficiency.

People who generally abuse alcohol should be examined, as excess alcohol in our body causes absorption of vitamins, generating Vitamin B deficiencies .

Note: The treatment of beriberi consists of the administration of vitamin B1 , initially intravenously and then orally. Vitamin B1 is harmless when consumed in large amounts, and excess is eliminated through the urine.

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