Some Dementia Cases May Actually Be Liver Issue

A study reveals that millions of people worldwide, including hundreds of thousands of Americans, may be suffering from a highly treatable liver ailment – an ailment that could lead to a severe brain disorder.

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a condition that affects the brain and can induce symptoms comparable to Alzheimer’s. Surprisingly, 10% of US veterans who were diagnosed with dementia actually had HE.

HE can manifest subtly, including changes in sleep patterns or irritability, and it can be hard to detect because of its mildness. Not all patients with cirrhosis have HE, for instance.

When harm persists for a long time, the liver loses its ability to filter the blood, allowing pollutants to accumulate and eventually reach the brain.

Once diagnosed, however, it responds well to standard pharmaceuticals. To do this, one usually takes laxatives first, which aid in removing ammonia and other toxins that build up in the digestive tract, and then one takes antibiotics, which eliminate some of the dangerous bacteria that produce ammonia in the stomach.

In contrast, dementia develops when brain cells and their functions are damaged over an extended period. Although there are medications that can somewhat delay the onset of dementia, the disease itself cannot be cured.

Memory loss and other cognitive declines brought on by amyloid plaque buildup in the brain characterize Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent kind of dementia.

Undiagnosed fatty liver disease affects over 80 million Americans out of 100 million with liver disease. Dementia affects almost eight million Americans.

More than 177,000 veterans with a dementia diagnosis and at least two clinic visits between 2009 and 2019 were the subjects of the new study conducted by VA clinicians. Liver disease affects almost 30% of the population.

Hepatitis is the most prevalent kind of liver illness; however, there are many other potential causes, such as fatty deposits, alcohol consumption, and viruses.

Scarring and a loss of the liver’s ability to cleanse blood can result from chronic injury that persists for too long. Toxins like these can accumulate to the point where they cause HE in the brain.

Though antibiotics can eliminate dangerous germs, HE is addressed with laxatives to eliminate ammonia and other toxins accumulating in the digestive tract.