THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2018 BUT WAS UPDATED ON 6/22/2021
While this article exposes the relationship between alcohol and dementia, it is important to first have a basic understanding of dementia, its causes, and symptoms as well as taking a closer look at alcohol and its relationship with dementia.
Basically, dementia is a generic term that is used to describe a mental disorder that is associated with a progressive decline in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from normal aging. Specific areas affected are memory, attention, judgment, speech and problem-solving skills.
Cause Of Dementia?
happens as a result of damage or deterioration within the brain cells. The human brain is made of different parts (performing distinct functions) that make up the whole and are interconnected. When this damage in brain cells occurs, it breaks communication between different areas of the brain.
What Factors Are Responsible For Dementia?
There are primarily three main factors that can be responsible for dementia namely, age, genetics, and lifestyle.
It is important to note that the risk of dementia increases with age due to the body slowing down the production of specific chemicals our body needs. The odds of dementia striking you or someone you care up go up significantly for those age 65 and older.
An individual is likely to develop dementia if there is a family history of dementia compared to the individual with no trace of dementia in their family history. Environmental factors also play a role in the development of dementia, although these are not pronounced in those with no family history. However, genetics combined with environmental factor can play a role to make an individual susceptible to dementia
Researchers have revealed that about 35% of dementia-related cases points to 9 risk factors based on the lifestyle, namely, education, hypertension, and obesity in childhood that continued on into young adult age, depression in a later age, hearing impairment, lack of exercise, smoking, and isolation from the social setting.
What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia?
The symptoms of dementia can be cognitive changes and psychological changes. Here are examples of a few of them.
The Cognitive Changes Are
- Memory loss
- Speech impairment
- Inability to make a decision
- Unable to solve a problem
The Psychological Changes Are
The Varying Types Of Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the most prominent type of dementia case. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 45% to 70% of dementia cases and the situation gets progressively worse if not attended to right away. Regrettably, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; however, researchers working on treatment plans and preventive measures to slow down this horrible disease. Alzheimer’s disease is associated with memory loss.
Vascular dementia that happens as a result of damage in blood vessel connected to the brain. Vascular dementia is associated with strokes.
Frontotemporal dementia results from the associated failures of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the human brain. Frontotemporal dementia is associated with depression and language disorder.
Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is a result of numerous clusters of protein that are found in the brain. Parkinson’s disease also results from these clusters of protein.
Mixed dementia is the result of more than one type of dementia afflicting a person simultaneously.
Alcohol And The Human Brain
Alcohol is made of sugar and yeast. It is the strong ingredient present in wines and beers called ethyl alcohol or ethanol.
There are several obvious signs that result from excessive alcohol intake ranging from zigzag walk patterns and illogical speech to memory delays and much more.
Alcohol has an adverse effect on the body. They generally affect the brain, pancreas, immune system, and other vital organs within the body.
Statistics have shown that 6 people die per day resulting from alcohol poisoning and 76 percent of this number is of ages 35 and 64. Also, three out of four deaths are men.
How Does Alcohol On The Human Brain?
Alcohol affects the brain by disrupting the signals that transmit across all parts of the body. These are called neurotransmitters and they are chemical messengers.
Neurotransmitters are responsible for our thought process and psychological responses such as emotion, etc. the neurotransmitters work in two ways: they can stimulate (excitatory) or decrease (inhibitory) the effect of brain activities based on certain factors this stimulation results in slow.
When alcohol stimulates brain activity it causes slow movement and illogical speech and it at the same time decreases the brain activity result in psychological delays and more, it increases the amount of dopamine in the brain thereby activating pleasure.
These effects of alcohol in the brain can cause memory lapses in the short term and in the long term can have a devastating effect. If use continues, a person may form a dependence on alcohol and may have to seek out alcohol rehab centers.
The Relationship Between Alcohol And Dementia
From the above, it can be deduced that both alcohol and dementia have a commonplace they affect most – the brain.
Research on Alcohol and dementia has revealed that alcohol can lead to brain damage.
Two syndromes were studied:
Alcohol-Related Dementia, ARD and Wernick-Karsokoff, WKS and was affirmed that excessive alcohol intake over a long period of time can lead to permanent cognitive damage, characteristics of dementia.
Alcohol intake poses a great threat to the brain that can damage memory. A research study conducted in France from 2008 to 2013 with over a million people, 60 years and above, with dementia, discovered that alcohol use disorder was a factor that contributed to dementia at the initial stage.
Another finding for the study showed that they were three times at risk of dementia compared to others whose dementia didn’t originate from alcohol.
What About Moderate Alcohol Intake?
While many people are under the impression that regular alcohol intact, when done in moderation, will not harm them, they are wrong.
Established findings have given enough evidence that proves the fact that alcohol intakes open up a potential risk of dementia. The consequences need no further to be highlighted as similar symptoms are possessed by them
Dementia is best treated at the initial stage of detection and the effect of the disorder can be decimated via abstinence coupled with a healthy diet with the vitamin thiamine to reduce the toxic effect, especially for heavy alcoholics.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon Torres is a freelance writer and journalist who writes about addiction as it relates to global issues. Her favorite author is Phillip K. Dick. She spends her days writing for Addiction Network.