What are the symptoms of thiamine deficiency?

Thiamine deficiency is associated with a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the type of thiamine deficiency. In one type of deficiency, known as wet beriberi, symptoms are similar to those of congestive heart failure. They include difficulty breathing with exercise or exertion or when lying down, and swelling in the legs. In another type of thiamine deficiency, dry beriberi, symptoms include weakness or paralysis of muscles or limbs, changes in thinking, difficulty sensing vibration, and other nervous system symptoms.

Common symptoms of thiamine deficiency (wet beriberi)

If you have wet beriberi thiamine deficiency, you may experience symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times, any of these symptoms may be severe:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty breathing when lying down
  • Leg pain and swelling (most noticeable by long-lasting indentations in your skin after you remove your socks)
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Shortness of breath

Common symptoms of thiamine deficiency (dry beriberi)

If you have dry beriberi thiamine deficiency, you may experience symptoms daily or just once in a while. At times, any of these symptoms may be severe:

  • Confusion or changes in thinking
  • Difficulty sensing vibrations, especially in your hands and feet
  • Difficulty walking
  • Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak
  • Generalized pain
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Repeated jerky eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness (loss of strength)

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, thiamine deficiency can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak
  • Paralysis or inability to move a body part
INTRODUCTION

What is thiamine deficiency?

Thiamine deficiency (beriberi) results when your body does not have enough of the vitamin thiamine. Your body requires thiamine to help it break down different types of sugar. Without enough thiamine, you may experience a variety of symptoms that can be serious. Because many foods are supplemented with thiamine, thiamine deficiency is rare in the United States. However, thiamine deficiency... Read more about thiamine deficiencyintroduction

CAUSES

What causes thiamine deficiency?

To function correctly, your body requires the vitamin thiamine. Without enough thiamine, a variety of symptoms can occur, ultimately resulting in death if the deficiency is severe or untreated.... Read more about thiamine deficiencycauses

TREATMENTS

How is thiamine deficiency treated?

The only treatment for thiamine deficiency is thiamine supplementation and changes to any underlying dietary habits that may have caused the deficiency. Thiamine supplementation can be given orally or by injection, depending on the type and cause of thiamine deficiency you have.... Read more about thiamine deficiencytreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Metabolic System