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Beriberi is a condition that occurs in people who are deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1). There are two major types of beriberi: wet beriberi which affects the cardiovascular system and dry beriberi which affects the nervous system. People with wet beriberi may experience increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and swelling of the lower legs. Signs and symptoms of dry beriberi include difficulty walking; loss of feeling in the hands and/or feet; paralysis of the lower legs; mental confusion; speech difficulty; pain; and/or vomiting. Beriberi is rare in the United States since many foods are now vitamin enriched; however, alcohol abuse, dialysis and taking high doses of diuretics increases the risk of developing the condition. In most cases, beriberi occurs sporadically in people with no family history of the condition. A rare condition known as genetic beriberi is inherited (passed down through families) and is associated with an inability to absorb thiamine from foods. Treatment generally includes thiamine supplementation, given by injection or taken by mouth.
Source: GARD Last updated on 05-01-20
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