Beriberi is a disease caused by a vitamin B-1 deficiency, also known as thiamine deficiency. There are two types of the disease: wet beriberi and dry beriberi. Wet beriberi affects the heart and circulatory system. In extreme cases, wet beriberi can cause heart failure. Dry beriberi damages the nerves and can lead to decreased muscle strength and eventually, muscle paralysis. Beriberi can be life-threatening if it isn’t treated.

If you have access to foods rich in thiamine, your chances of developing beriberi are low. Today, beriberi mostly occurs in people with an alcohol use disorder. Beriberi from other causes are rare in the United States. Still, the disease can be seen in women who have extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum), in people with AIDS, and after bariatric surgery.

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