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Alcohol and the human nervous system

29.09.2022

Chronic alcoholism is a serious medical, social and economic problem.Factors contributing to the development of alcoholism are genetic predisposition, social conditions and environment contribute to a lesser extent. The nervous system can suffer not only in people who are alcoholics. It all depends on the doses of alcohol, concomitant health problems and individual characteristics of metabolism. Sometimes 1-2 bottles of beer several times a week are enough for the development of the disease. Let's think about our youth!

Let's consider the most common and, unfortunately, easily recognizable lesions of the nervous system in alcoholism. Alcoholic encephalopathy is a disease in which brain cells are destroyed under the influence of alcohol, brain matter is replaced by fluid. First of all, alcoholic degeneration of the cerebellum appears, and then the large hemispheres suffer. With alcoholic encephalopathy, coordination and balance are disturbed in a person, hands tremble, the circle of interests narrows, then appetite decreases, especially for protein foods, later aggressiveness prevails, mood swings, fear and anxiety appear. Patients do not sleep either day or night. There are cramps in the limbs, trembling throughout the body.  Often, especially at night, there are attacks of chills and sweating, palpitations, discomfort in the heart area. The development of alcoholic encephalopathy is preceded by long-term (from 6-7 to 20 years or more) daily drunkenness, but in women this disease develops earlier. Often such patients abuse various kinds of alcoholic surrogates. Often acute forms of alcoholic encephalopathy develop in the spring, when hypovitaminosis is noted, and even during a binge, such people are disgusted with food. This is accompanied by heartburn, abdominal pain.

In the advanced stage of acute alcoholic encephalopathy, patients develop hallucinations, delirium, confusion. Then such patients become immobilized, gradually fall into a coma, they may develop bedsores.  Such patients should be immediately hospitalized in a hospital. After all, the whole body suffers. It should be noted that each psychosis is accompanied by persistent and often irreversible changes in the central nervous system.            

After massive and prolonged alcohol abuse, the so-called Korsakov syndrome develops in 50% of cases, when patients lose their memory for current events while maintaining long-term memory for old events. Orientation in place and time is disrupted, although patients know themselves and remember their name. Often such amnesia develops in women.

A formidable complication of alcohol abuse is alcoholic epilepsy.  If a person suffering from alcoholism has had an epipripad at least once, it will definitely repeat. Alcoholic epilepsy is dangerous because it is a chronic disease, and seizures will recur regardless of whether a person has been drinking or not. Alcoholic epilepsy may occur in the first day after stopping drinking alcohol, and after an attack, hallucinations may develop, further development - delirium. Such a patient has a pronounced alcoholic degradation of personality – they are embittered, picky, touchy. Every epipripad, even short-term, has a danger to the patient's life, such patients cannot be left without emergency care! If you notice that the patient loses consciousness, makes a loud scream and falls, do not let the patient fall backwards so that he does not get injured. Try to behave calmly. It is not necessary to hold the patient's limbs tightly, otherwise he will get injured; if the place where he fell does not threaten his safety, then he should not be moved. Put soft objects under your head, unbutton your belt and buttons on your clothes. Turn the patient's head on its side so that the tongue does not sink and saliva does not get into the respiratory tract. If vomiting occurs, the patient's body should also be turned on its side. You should not unclench your teeth, otherwise the "savior" will bite through your fingers. You just need to insert a spoon or other object wrapped in a towel or a bat between your teeth. The cramps will stop on their own after 2-3 minutes. After that, the patient should be given a good night's sleep. Immediate medical assistance is needed only if the attack lasts more than half an hour or the attacks follow one after another in a row.  As a rule, this is a series (2-6 times) of sudden convulsive seizures, between which patients recover for a short time.

We have already mentioned the damage to the cerebellum in alcoholism. So, this develops in middle-aged men against the background of an unbalanced diet. Severe balance and walking disorders (patients cannot stand or walk without support), speech disorders (dysarthria), oculomotor disorders (nystagmus) develop. Against the background of abstinence from alcohol, with proper nutrition, taking multivitamins, the condition may slowly improve.

The most common complication in the health of all alcoholics, occurring in 90% of such patients, is alcoholic polyneuropathy.The disease develops both from the toxic effect of ethyl alcohol and microcirculation disorders in nerve fibers, and with prolonged exposure to a monotonous pose in a state of intoxication with the development of prolonged pathological compression (patients simply do not feel developing numbness, and as a result, the nerve is damaged). In most cases, the disease develops gradually, more often from the lower extremities, but there are also cases of acute development of the disease. Initially, pains and cramps develop in the calf muscles, numbness and pain in the soles, which increases at night. If you neglect treatment and continue to drink alcohol regularly, the feeling of numbness will develop into increasing weakness in the legs, and then in the hands. It is necessary that the patient begins to fully and properly eat. If you do not stop drinking, then no folk recipes and ultramodern medicines will help him.

Chief Freelance Neurologist of the Department

health care of the Lipetsk region Nikonova L.A.

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"Lipetsk Regional Perinatal Center"
398055, Lipetsk, Moskovskaya str., possession 6g (84742) 31-45-96; Факс: 31-45-96 lopc@zdrav48.ru

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