What is Beri Beri?

This condition is mostly seen on a background of prolonged ingestion of alcohol. It is present in more than 80% of cases of Wernicke-Korsakoff’s disease.

The development of vitamin B1 deficiency in chronic alcoholics is due to low intake, impaired absorption in the digestive system and storage, accelerated destruction of Thiamin and varying degrees of energy expenditure.

Clinical Features

1. Dry Beriberi-Manifestation involves the nervous system.
2. Wet Beriberi-Manifestation involves the heart.

Dry Beriberi

1. Peripheral neuropathy-This is characterised by bilateral symmetrical impairment of the sensory, motor, and reflex functions in the distal segments of limbs due to damage to the peripheral nerves.
2. Ataxia-Patient has an unbalanced gait.
3. Rapid eye movements.
4. Speech disturbances.
5. Mental confusion.

Wet Beriberi

1. Edema of feet.
2. Cardiac failure.
3. Rapid heart rate.
4. Dyspnea restlessness and collapse.

Management

1. Stop alcohol.
2. Improve general nutrition.
3. Admit to a hospital for injectable Vitamin B1.
4. Other oral vitamins.