What is Beri Beri? Its Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Grecian Hospital

What is Beri Beri? Its Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Beri Beri or Beriberi is a life-threatening body disorder developed due to deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine). Thiamine is an important nutrient involved in several body functions, such as breaking down carbohydrates, conduction in nerve cells, and many others. Thiamine can be easily consumed through the diet. But prolonged consumption of low-thiamine foods can cause beriberi.

Mainly, there are two types of beriberi:

  1. Wet beriberi: Wet beriberi mainly impacts the cardiovascular and circulatory systems. In rare cases, wet beriberi can lead to heart failure also. 
  2. Dry beriberi: It damages the nerves, decreases muscle strength, and may also cause muscle paralysis. Nerve damage typically starts from the legs and arms.

What are the symptoms of Beri-Beri?

The symptoms of beriberi vary depending on the type.

Wet beriberi symptoms include:

  • rapid heart rate
  • swollen lower legs
  • shortness of breath after waking up
  • shortness of breath during physical activity

Dry beriberi symptoms include:

  • tingling or loss of feeling in the feet and hands
  • decreased muscle function, particularly in the lower legs
  • difficulty speaking
  • mental confusion
  • vomiting
  • Paralysis
  • involuntary eye movement

Causes of Beri-Beri

The main cause of beriberi is a diet low in thiamine. The disease is very rare in regions with access to vitamin-deficient foods, such as certain breakfast cereals and bread. Beriberi is most common in regions of the world where the diet includes unhealthy foods such as processed white rice, which only has a tenth of the amount of thiamine as brown rice.

How to diagnose Beri-Beri?

You will need a series of medical tests to determine if you have beriberi or not. Blood and urine tests will measure the levels of thiamine in the body. If your body has trouble absorbing thiamine, you will have a low concentration of thiamine in your blood and a high concentration in your urine.

Doctors will also perform a neurological exam to look for lack of coordination, difficulty walking, droopy eyelids, and weak reflexes. People with later stages of beriberi will show memory loss, confusion, or delusions.

A physical exam will alert your doctor to any heart problems. Rapid heartbeat, swelling of the lower legs, and difficulty breathing are all symptoms of beriberi.

How to prevent Beri Beri?

To prevent beriberi, eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes foods rich in thiamine. These include:

  • beans and legumes
  • seeds
  • meat
  • fish
  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • dairy
  • certain vegetables, such as asparagus, acorn squash, brussels sprouts, spinach, and beet greens
  • breakfast cereals that are enriched with thiamine

Cooking or processing any of the foods listed above decreases their thiamine content.

Always be sure to purchase infant formula from a reliable source.

Limiting alcohol consumption will reduce your risk of developing beriberi. Anyone who abuses alcohol should be checked routinely for a B-1 vitamin deficiency.

Visit Grecian Super Speciality Hospital

Grecian Hospital

If you or your near one is also suffering from Beriberi or any health issue due to vitamin deficiency, consult the best doctor in the area of Chandigarh, Mohali, and Panchkula in Grecian Hospital. 

The hospital is 300 bedded and all the doctors here possess vast experience in handling ortho, cardiac, or various other chronic health-related issues too. Modern equipment, caring staff nurses, emergency department, and all essential needs are available here for proper care of the patients. 

You can book an appointment to consult a doctor for your health checkup by just dialing 62837-05192 or visit the hospital located at Sector 69, Mohali- 160062, Punjab. 

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