Lee Ryan opens up about alcoholism on Loose Women in 2019
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This condition mainly affects people between the age of 40 to 50, with brain scans revealing a shrunken frontal lobe. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, alcohol-related dementia isn’t guaranteed to worsen over time. In fact, if a person with alcohol-related dementia stops drinking alcohol, it is possible for a partial or full recovery. One of the warning signs that alcohol is impairing the brain is when a person finds it difficult to focus on a task without becoming distracted.
Another issue that may come to light is when the person affected has difficulties with solving problems, planning, and organising.
It may also be more arduous for the person with a shrunken lobe to set goals, make judgements, and to make decisions.
“Outbursts” may become more commonplace, where the person appears to be uncontrollably irritable.
They may also lack motivation to complete tasks or activities, even essential ones such as eating dinner.
The brain damage caused by alcohol could also cause the person to become less understanding of how other people are thinking or feeling.
“Their behaviour may seem insensitive or uncaring,” the Alzheimer’s Society elaborated.
Five warnings signs of alcohol-related dementia include difficulties with:
- Staying focused on a task without becoming distracted
- Solving problems, planning and organising
- Setting goals, making judgements and making decisions
- Being motivated to do tasks or activities (even essential ones like eating or drinking) controlling their emotions – they may become irritable or have outbursts
- Understanding how other people are thinking or feeling (their behaviour may seem insensitive or uncaring).
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It’s also possible for a person with this condition to experience issues with their memory.
Examples include the inability to understand new information, or quickly forgetting the details of a conversation.
The person affected may not be able to recall where they previously lived or places where they’ve been on holiday.
Alcohol-related dementia can even affect a person’s balance – even when they’re not intoxicated.
“This is because alcohol damages the part of the brain that controls balance, co-ordination and posture,” the charity explained.
The brain condition can also influence a person’s mood, causing apathy, depression, or irritability.
A diagnosis involves an appointment with the GP, paper-based tests, and a brain scan.
How alcohol damages the brain
Alcohol is a toxin that kills off the brain’s nerve cells and can cause the brain tissue to shrink.
“This means there are fewer cells to carry the messages that the brain needs to do different tasks,” the charity elaborated.
Regularly drinking too much alcohol also damages the blood vessels within the brain; this can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke.
Alcohol consumption also prevents the body from getting enough thiamine (vitamin B1) – a vitamin the brain needs to function properly.
People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol are also more likely to encounter head injuries.
This may be due to falls, which can lead to lasting damage on the brain.
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