A specific nutritional deficiency syndrome occurring in endemic form in eastern and southern Asia, sporadically in other parts of the world without reference to climate, and sometimes in alcoholic patients, resulting mainly from a dietary deficiency of thiamin; the “dry” form is characterized by a painful polyneuropathy that involves both large and small somatic nerve fibers, as well as autonomic nerve fibers, the initial symptom is burning feet, and later symptoms consist of painful parasthesias in the distal upper limbs as well, weakness and atrophy of the feet and hands, and distal atrophic skin and hair loss; the “wet” form is characterized by edema resulting from a high output form of heart failure, but usually there is evidence of a coexisting polyneuropathy as well.
Synonym(s): endemic neuritis
[Singhalese, extreme weakness]
See Also: nutritional polyneuropathy
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