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Thiamin Deficiency

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Vitamin B1deficiency


  • A deficiency of vitamin B1 can cause beriberi as well as Wernicke's encephalopathy.  This problem is seen most often in alcoholics in the United States. In other parts of the world, it commonly occurs where there is not enough protein and calories in the diet.  Important sources of B1 include beef liver, beef kidney, pork, yeast (brewer's), whole wheat, salmon, soy and kidney beans, wheat germ, etc.
  • B1 AIDS in the proper function of the mucous membranes, nervous system, muscles, heart, and metabolism.  It AIDS energy levels, decreases pain, and may fight viruses (e.g., Herpes Zoster).

  • Thiamin deficiency can cause poor appetite, Muscle Cramps, tingling, or numbness.
  • As the disease worsens, it can cause beriberi or Wernicke-Korsakoff's syndrome.
  • Beriberi is divided into "wet" and "dry" types.
    1. "Wet" beriberi occurs in patients with thiamin deficiency who over-exert themselves and eat too much carbohydrates.  It primarily affects the cardiovascular system.  Patients have flushing, Heart Failure, trouble breathing, fluid build-up in the lungs, and fast heart rates. They also have very warm, red feet.
    2. "Dry" beriberi usually occurs in people with thiamin deficiency who are not active and do not take in enough calories.  This mostly affects the nervous system and causes numbness, tingling, and decreased reflexes.  It is also associated with Wernicke's encephalopathy, which causes confusion, problems with walking, and problems moving the eye.  Additionally, it can lead to Korsakoff's syndrome, causing forgetfulness and difficulties learning.

  • This disease is caused by a lack of thiamin (vitamin B1).
  • Alcoholics have this disease more often because they tend not to eat a healthy diet.  They also have problems absorbing thiamin from the intestine.

  • Treating the patient with thiamin and watching the symptoms is the least intrusive method of diagnosis.  There are blood and urine tests also available to check thiamin levels.  Administering thiamin and monitoring the results is the recommended first line of diagnosis as well as treatment.

  • Intravenous thiamin is given to the patient for a few days, followed by oral doses.  The most important treatment is to eat properly.
  • People who are suspected of having thiamin deficiency should always be given thiamin before they are given intravenous glucose.





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