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Dementia due to metabolic causes

  • Definition

    Dementia is a loss of brain function over weeks, months, or years that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. Similar changes that occur over hours or a day or two is called delirium or encephalopathy.

    Metabolism refers to all the physical and chemical processes in the body. Dementia due to metabolic causes is a loss of brain function that can occur with diabetes, thyroid disease, and other metabolic disorders.


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    How often this condition affects different ages, genders, and races varies based on the disorder that is causing the dementia.

    Metabolic causes of dementia include:

    • Endocrine disorders, such as Addison's disease or Cushing's disease
    • Heavy metal exposure, such as to lead, arsenic, murcury, or manganese
    • Repeat episodes of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), most often seen in people with diabetes who use insulin
    • Hyperparathyroidism, by causing very high levels of calcium in the blood
    • Hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone) or thyrotoxicosis (very high levels of thyroid hormone in the body)
    • Liver cirrhosis
    • Porphyria
    • Nutritional disorders, such as vitamin B1 deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, pellagra, or protein-calorie malnutrition