Alcohol Dementia

Alcohol Dementia is one of the complications of chronic alcoholism. It is a very unpleasant condition which ruins the life of affected person and his or her relative and close people.


Alcohol dementia usually occurs gradually but there may be attack of sudden deterioration. It combines negative effects of alcohol on brain cells and in later stages brain dysfunction is also associated with complications of liver damage (liver cirrhosis). Liver impairment may result in hepatic encephalopathy by which disorders of brain activity intensify.


There are gradual personality changes, progressive dementia, memory impairment and disturbance of self-sufficiency. Affected person only with difficulties receives new information and is no longer fully capable of solving common daily situations. Sometimes Korsakoff’s syndrome occurs when a person can not remember recent events and thinks up missing information (confabulations).


It is important to get information about affected people’s alcohol intake. In blood tests there are plenty of signs of alcoholism (enlarged red blood cells, vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency, elevated liver enzymes, elevated ammonia level by decompensate cirrhosis, etc.). Abdominal ultrasound may show signs of liver cirrhosis. A psychiatric examination should be undoubtedly carried out. It helps not only in diagnostics but also allows to determine the severity of dementia and to suggest a therapeutic procedure.


The basis is, of course, a complete alcohol withdrawal; supply the patient with missing nutrients, minerals and vitamins. In addition various nootropics (drugs improving memory) may be offered as well as drugs improving brain blood flow. It is very important to ensure everyday physical and psychical activity as a prevention of mental deterioration. If conditions worsen because of acute liver encephalopathy overlying the dementia, doctors must start to treat the symptoms of liver failure. 

Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources