Type: Analysis
Pages: 7 | Words: 1941
Reading Time: 9 Minutes

Alcohol is a substance created when fruits, grains, or vegetables are put to ferment. Fermentation process uses bacteria or yeast to alter the sugars found in those foods to alcohol. Fermentation can be used to create many necessary things from cheese to even medications. Alcohol can be of different forms sometimes it may be used as a cleaning agent, a sedative, or an antiseptic.

Normally, alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. Once in the blood, it affects the spinal cord and the brain. These are the arts that control virtually everything in the body. Alcohol being a depressant will slow the functioning of the central nervous system (C.N.S). Alcohol will most likely block most of the messages trying to get to the brain (Gurnak, 1997). This will hence affect the person’s emotions, perceptions, vision, movement and hearing. Most people take it to feel relaxed, less anxious and happier, but this can only happen if it is taken in small amounts. If taken in large amounts, it causes changes in the brain due to intoxication.

For young people or children or generally those under 18 years, avoiding alcohol is the best option. Parents should take care of their children so that the drinking age is delayed. Those most at risk of engaging in alcohol are teenagers of about 15 years.

Alcohol is harmful not only to those who binge drink or get drunk, but also those who drink regularly. Such people may not see the risk at first, but the harmful effects are felt later after several years. By this time, serious health problems usually have developed. Some of the effects include reduced fertility, liver problems, higher chances of getting different types of cancers, heart attack and increased blood pressure. The more one takes alcohol the more they are at risk of health risks.

Alcohol consumers may be divided into categories according to risks. There are those categorized as higher-risk, increasing-risk, and lower-risk drinkers. When one drinks consistently, the risk is only lowered, but it is not safe. It is recommended that men who drink regularly should not exceed four units while women should not exceed three units in a day. Taking even the smallest amount can still have effects especially if you are to operate machinery, drive, swim or engage in strenuous activities.

Pregnant women should not take alcohol because the same reaches the fetus as it’s able to pass the placenta. Exposure of a fetus to alcohol can lead to abnormalities in the baby. It is advised that anyone pregnant or planning to get pregnant should not exceed two units a week.

Men and women who exceed alcohol limits are at higher risk of getting mouth, throat and neck cancer. Taking alcohol increases risk of breast cancer among women. Other risks involved are liver cirrhosis and high blood pressure. Other problems as a result of alcohol consumption include depression, fatigue, weight gain, sexual problems and poor sleep. Most people who over- indulge on alcohol have physical shapes that are worse than what they originally looked like. They also experience broken relationships with friends and family because most argue or fight when drunk.

This may be defined as brain functioning impairment as a result of diseases that affect the brain. The risk of dementia increases with an increase in age. Therefore, this means that dementia generally affects people about sixty years of age or older. Most often, the disease is incurable, and the damages are irreversible. The conditions that involve dementia include Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease Alzheimer’s, disease, multiple sclerosis, brain infections and strokes (Brown, 2000).

Though incurable most of the time, there are times when the symptoms may be prevented from worsening and may sometimes be reversed. In case of brain injury, early therapy, which is comprehensive can improve the patient’s outcomes. This may reduce the impact as well as improve the quality of one’s life. Effects of alcohol and drug abuse can be remedied to a certain degree if medical intervention is timely (Perdant, 1985).

In most instances, it starts with being forgetful. One starts experiencing difficulty in remembering some information, difficulties using language, difficulty in perceiving information that is visual. This may then be followed by behavior and emotional changes. As the disease progresses, the patient may find it very hard to use their thinking skills like calculations. Though such problems are normal as one age, alcohol aggravates the problem (Lamptom, 1997).

The primary signs include finding it hard to accomplish things that would be done routinely like balancing checkbooks, losing direction or forgetfulness of familiar places, considerable changes in personality, difficulty in socializing and losing interest in things that you could previously enjoy. These symptoms can worsen to the point that one cannot take care of oneself. They may be unable to prepare meals, dressing themselves appropriately to match the weather and driving. They will often forget their appointments and their medications. They may also forget how to write, read, have hallucinations become argumentative and may sometimes turn violent.

In very severe cases of dementia, the sufferer may be unable to do even simple tasks. Sometimes they may be unable to know their family members or use language. They may also have motor problems like swallowing and incontinence.

Taking alcohol in excess may lead to a condition commonly identified as Alcohol Dementia. This is a problem caused by excessive consumption of alcohol in a longtime (letenneur, 2004). Alcohol dementia leads to memory problems, learning and cognitive skills. Alcohol directly affects the brain, which in turn results to poor judgment, poor insight and difficulty in decision making (Johannesson, 1981). Dementia is further aggravated by the fact that alcoholics barely have time for eat or nutrient uptake is hindered by alcohol. This then results to nutrition deficiencies and problems which are common problems in longtime alcohol abusers. Vitamin deficiencies affect some parts of the brain further aggravating or contributing to dementia. People with dementia can barely learn anything new yet, most of other abilities of memory are usually functioning (Esiri, 2004).

The first Tell-Tell Sign that one is suffering from alcohol dementia is confusion. This confusion is accompanied by memory problems that are obvious. For example, a patient may remember with precision and detail things or events that took place many years ago but may be unable to recall things that have taken place few minutes ago (Fox, 2011).

Another symptom could be talking about the same thing or questioning someone about the same thing repeatedly without the knowledge that the same has been answered. They may also tell the same story 20 times unaware of what they are doing.

Alcohol Dementia sometimes is referred to as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), in reality it is two syndromes, which may either occur together or independently. This is a disease that comprises of multiple nerves damage. Both the CNS (which comprises of the spinal cord and brain) and the peripheral nerves are affected. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may also be included. This condition is generally associated with under nutrition precisely lack of thiamine or B-1. Under nutrition is common in people who habitually use alcohol (Smith, 2011).

Korsakoff psychosis or Korsakoff syndrome involves the memory being impaired as well as reducing cognitive/ intellect skills like problem solving alongside multiple symptoms showing nerve damage. The most unique symptom is known as confabulation (fabrication). This is where the person usually makes up detailed stories that are believable about experiences so as to cover gaps in their memory. Korsakoff psychosis encompasses damage to certain areas in the brain (Jacques, 2000).

A person with alcohol dementia can be identified using the following symptoms; Personality changes; the person changes and easily gets angry, is irritable and shows frustration. They may also have unstable moods, suspicion, jealousy, is insensitive to others and fears being alone. They may also lose their problem solving skills: the person may become incapable of performing familiar tasks, cannot make connections, and is unable to make any decisions or inability to finish or start a project. They may also experience communication problems; a person may be unable to find words, cannot follow an ongoing conversation and may repeat questions. They are disoriented; losses direction, time sense, may be unable to recognize people or familiar places and may also exhibit unfamiliar behaviors such as neglect of oneself, hoarding and neglect of property.

Most physicians miss the diagnosis, but a patient presenting signs and symptoms such as red tongue, disparities in the electrolytes, blood count and lowered liver functioning should be investigated for WKA. CT scans may also show diencephalic lesions and ventricles that are enlarged. An MRI could show mammillary bodies that are shrunken. A comprehensive medical history should be taken to include the history of drinking of the patient. It is recommended that diagnoses of alcohol dementia be done two months after the last exposure to alcohol.

Treatment and recovery is possible if WKS is caught early. Its treatment involves therapy using thiamine replacement along with some other vitamins. The doses should be monitored by a physician closely. The first thing is completely stopping alcohol consumption. They may then be able to perform simple tasks. Confusion may take quite some time before it subsides. Memory may take a year to be recovered. If WKS is discovered in the last stages, brain damage may be irreversible. Such individuals are probably going to forever have memory problems and gait. The latter is characterized by weakness or numbness in limbs or muscle incoordination.

Family issues are likely to emerge because it is hard caring for a patient with alcohol-related dementia or WKS as these individuals exhibit bizarre behaviors. It also hard convincing the individuals to give up alcohol. Resentment and strained relationships are common and as such services of mental specialists should be enlisted. If the situation is very serious, nursing homes or residential facilities may also be enlisted. Special care for the patient suffering from dementia is likely to be given in such places.

Affected persons should be given diets high in thiamine to replace the loses and increase stores. Precautions should be taken to ensure they are safe. They should not be left alone to wander away neither should a stove be on unless someone is supervising them. Frequent repetition of one thing is common, but responses should also be delivered in a calm way. This is because the patient picks up the mood and they end up being frustrated. If agitation continues, consulting a psychiatrist, neurologist or a physician is the best option as medication can be prescribed to avoid anxiety or outbursts.

According to the Australian government national health and medical research council (NHMRC, 2001) and the alcohol guidelines in Australia, it is advised that for women and men to be healthy, they must not have more than 3 to 4 standard drinks in one occasion. Children or those below 18 years are supposed to keep off alcohol, and the same applies to women who are pregnant or lactating.

A standard drink depends and according to the guidelines should be as follows;

For a stubbie low-strength beer, 0.8 is standard. For stubbie mid-strength, one drink is standard. A 100ml glass of wine with 13.5 alcohol percentage is standard while a 30 ml nip spirit makes a standard drink. Can spirits are also not left out, for those that have 7% and 5% 1.6 to 2.4 and 1.2 to 1.7 is standard respectively.

People may be aware of the negative effects of alcohol, but many are not aware that it actually causes dementia. Many may also not to be aware of the recommended amounts. This is important to determine because it could change their drinking patterns and hence reduces the chances of alcohol dementia, which is a great burden to family members and the country as a whole.

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