In modern, industrialized nations like the United States, the possibility that a vitamin deficiency can cause serious health consequences seems foreign. In fact, the possibility that a vitamin deficiency is the cause of an ailment sometimes doesn't even occur to trained doctors.
This situation could be especially dangerous if the vitamin you lack is Vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, Vitamin B1 is essential in maintaining the operations of your central nervous system and processing carbohydrates. This is why processed foods such as breakfast cereals have this essential vitamin added to them.
Signs of Vitamin B1/Thiamine Deficiency
Thiamine deficiency can present itself in a number of ways:
- You could be abnormally weak to the point where you don't have the energy to perform even routine tasks. This is because your body is having trouble processing fuel into energy.
- You could notice that your heart rate is irregular.
- You may be losing weight due to malnutrition.
- You could experience panic attacks or night terrors when you never have before.
If your Vitamin B1 deficiency is severe enough, you could develop a condition called Wernicke's encephalopathy. Left unchecked, this disease could affect the memory centers of your brain. Some of the characteristics of Wernicke's encephalopathy include:
- Loss of balance while walking
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent confusion
- Visual disturbances
- Severe memory loss
If a doctor fails to diagnose and treat Vitamin B1 deficiency, the patient could suffer irreversible brain damage and permanent disability.
Are You at Risk?
While anyone could theoretically suffer from thiamine deficiency, some groups have a higher risk.
- Have you undergone either bariatric or gastrointestinal surgery?
- Are you suffering from severe nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy?
- Are you dealing with alcohol addiction?
If you belong to one of these groups, it's a good idea to mention any symptoms to your doctor.
A Simple Solution Too Often Overlooked
The truly devastating fact is that, if diagnosed early, the cure for a thiamine deficiency is a shot of vitamin B1. Once you develop a condition such as Wernicke's encephalopathy, it's too late for an easy fix, and you could suffer permanent damage.
If your doctor fails to properly diagnose your condition in a timely manner, it could indicate medical malpractice. If you believe this may be the case in your situation, speak with an attorney about your options.