Wet Brain or Wernicke-Korsakoff: What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

The thiamine supplements can improve certain symptoms, like delirium and confusion. However, it will not improve symptoms related to memory loss or cognitive impairment. When there’s a deficiency of thiamine in the body, certain enzymes are produced. These enzymes mush brain trigger certain metabolic events and sequences that can lead to neuronal death. This causes the formation of lesions, and the brain will basically become damaged to the point where it bleeds. The damage can be rather severe, and some damages may be permanent.

  • Research has shown that people who are hospitalized for alcohol misuse die 24 to 28 years sooner compared to people in the general population.
  • A poor diet is a common occurrence in those who abuse alcohol long-term.
  • Typically, it’s based on a physical exam, your health history, and some tests.
  • Most alcoholics who aren’t treated for Wernicke’s encephalopathy develop Korsakoff’s psychosis.

The actual number of people affected by this condition may be even higher. So many people out there do not recognize that they are suffering from a medical condition and hence do not seek treatment for it. When someone drinks large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time, they can experience a form of permanent brain damage called wet brain.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

In addition to causing wet brain, alcohol addiction can also damage the brain in other ways. Heavy drinking can lead to a decrease in the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory. Wet brain is not always easy to diagnose, particularly if the patient is confused or unable to share accurate medical history. If someone has a history of alcohol misuse, physicians may look for signs of damage to the liver and conduct tests to determine the levels of vitamin B1 in the body. In addition to conducting a physical examination, doctors may also order imaging tests to look for damage to the brain.

what does wet brain feel like

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of wet brain. Early intervention is key to reversing the damage caused by thiamine deficiency. If you think you or someone you know may have wet brain, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Signs of wet brain can differ depending on the stage of the disorder. In the first of the wet brain stages, known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy, symptoms can include confusion, disorientation, changes in vision and abnormal eye movements. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome takes the first part of its name from Wernicke encephalopathy.

Wernicke’s Encephalopathy

The following article will explore the dietary consequences of long-term alcohol abuse, and whether or not these deficits can be reversed. About 80% of people with alcohol use disorder have a thiamine deficiency, and up to 2% of the total U.S. adult population has Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/alcohol-and-aging-does-alcohol-make-you-look-older/ However, it is not well understood who has wet brain because of alcohol abuse or from poor nutrition. It is also not possible to accurately estimate who all has wet brain because many people with severe alcoholism do not seek treatment or are homeless and are not evaluated for the condition.

Heavy alcohol consumption (along with poor nutrition) could lead to a thiamine, or Vitamin B1, deficiency. When someone is deficient in Vitamin B1, their brain doesn’t process sugar into energy. When sugar isn’t processed into energy, it may lead to a variety of side effects that mimic those of dementia or withdrawal. Long-term, heavy drinking can seriously damage your health in various ways.

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Wet brain syndrome has two different but related conditions Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis. They are two stages where Wernicke encephalopathy is not diagnosed and treated; it can further develop into Korsakoff’s psychosis. Together, these conditions are called wet brain syndrome or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Many people understand that misusing alcohol can seriously affect your physical and mental health and your relationships with others. However, a less commonly known health issue that may arise when misusing alcohol is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

These signs — coupled with a doctor’s awareness of the patient’s alcohol addiction —could lead to further neurological testing. But in affluent countries like the United States, it is most commonly attributed to alcohol abuse, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a type of dementia or cognitive impairment caused by a deficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1.

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