Beriberi Definition - What is Beriberi?

Beriberi is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine) in the diet. The disease involves nerve degeneration (peripheral neuritis) and muscle disease (myopathy), particularly affecting heart muscles.

Beriberi Symptoms

Symptoms of Beriberi include fatigue, diarrhea, loss of weight, and heart failure. Beriberi is prevalent in eastern and southern Asia, but is relatively rare in the United States. It is sometimes associated with chronic alcoholism because many alcoholics fail to eat a properly balanced diet.

Types of Beriberi

There are two types of beriberi: dry and wet.
Dry beriberi results in the loss of strength and of some feeling in the limbs due to nerve degeneration. Wet beriberi is caused by accumulated fluid in the limbs (edema) and in the abdomen (ascites) because of a heart malfunction; nerve degeneration is commonly present as well.

Beriberi treatment

Beriberi is treated with vitamin B1 and this cures most cases of the disease. Care should be taken to provide the patient with a balanced diet.

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