Besides, many chronic alcoholics may be destitute or have a reduced social circle or support mechanism because of their alcoholism, which results in fewer official diagnoses of wet brain. Most people have heard of the term «Wet Brain» but not many know its actual meaning. Wet Brain from alcohol impacts the thalamus and hypothalamus region of the brain and may also result in permanent brain damage and memory problems. Korsakoff’s syndrome dementia affects not just the brain, but also the cardiovascular and central nervous system. Once a person has been diagnosed with end stage alcoholism, life expectancy can be as limited as six months.

  • Men suffering from alcohol abuse, between years, are slightly more affected than women of the same age.
  • Stage two, Korsakoff’s Psychosis, is only partially reversible with aggressive and immediate treatment.
  • The mortality rate for Wernicke’s encephalopathy is only at about 10% to 20%.
  • However, additional medications may be needed to treat other symptoms.

Specific actions of thiamine on a cellular level then are reviewed, followed by a discussion of how alcohol affects the body’s processing and availability of thiamine as well as thiamine utilization by the cells. Finally, the article explores the hypothesis that people may differ in their sensitivity to thiamine deficiency and that different brain regions may be more or less sensitive to a deficiency in this important nutrient. Thiamine deficiency is particularly important because it can exacerbate many of the other processes by which alcohol induces brain injury, as described in other articles in this issue of Alcohol Research & Health.

Korsakoffs Psychosis

With Wernicke’s encephalopathy, a person will develop neurological symptoms because the brain is suffering from lesions that form from a lack of adequate thiamine. Mostly, these neurological symptoms are related to memory problems. Once the signs of the first part of the wet brain syndrome diminish, a person can develop the symptoms of Korsakoff’s psychosis. When most people think about drinking-related problems, they picture car accidents, fights, and run-ins with the police. But problem drinking can also lead to a range of severe and sometimes irreversible health problems. The more someone drinks and the longer someone drinks without quitting, then the higher their risks of developing cancer, liver damage, sexual dysfunction, and nutritional deficits. It requires immediate treatment to relieve symptoms and avoid complications.

Wet Brain from Alcoholism

The blood work should also look at the concentration of other vitamins and minerals. Wet Brain is primarily a condition that impacts people who have abused alcohol for long periods of time, however it can also be caused by poor nutrition or from prolonged periods of vomiting due to sickness or other causes. Although it was a short stay at Discovery, I feel I got a lot out of meetings, commitments, feed back, and advice from my family. But most of all, I felt great progress happened in group and one on one’s with counselors.

How Does Drinking Cause Wet Brain Syndrome?

WE is completely reversible when recognized early, but when it’s left untreated it may eventually transition to the second stage of wet brain called Korsakoff psychosis. Unfortunately, few people know about the most serious conditions of alcohol abuse like wet brain or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. In the United States, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is usually the result of chronic alcohol abuse, though it can also be the consequence of malnutrition or a severe eating disorder. For some, taking a strong oral thiamine supplement to boost thiamine levels is enough to sufficiently increase thiamine levels to notice some healing. In other cases, where the brain damage is severe, memory and gait may remain permanently impaired.

In the most severe cases, these persistent symptoms meet the criteria of full–blown Korsakoff’s psychosis. In order to seek treatment for wet brain, you must be sober for a proper “wet brain” diagnosis, as the symptoms are congruent with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. For example, someone going through alcohol withdrawal may also experience tremors and mental instability. If you think you might be experiencing wet brain, it is imperative to seek treatment for both alcohol addiction and the syndrome while reversal is still possible.

Learning from my counselor the most knowledgeable thing was that I do have a purpose; I deserve the life I dreamt of as a kid. I’m truly grateful I had the chance to be a part of Discovery Institute and had the counseling I’ve had since coming here. My experience here at Discovery Institute has been very valuable during my 90 day stay. I have learned more about myself and the importance of applying the tools Discovery has taught me once I leave.


This test estimates the amount of a protein called albumin found in blood plasma. Significantly diminished amounts of albumin in the blood may indicate nutritional insufficiency and also liver or kidney issues. For example, a patient with Korsakoff’s psychosis may be able to discuss a childhood memory in detail. However, within an hour, they may completely forget having that conversation at all.

About a quarter of people who develop Korsakoff syndrome will recover. My good friend has been hospitalized then put in an Post Acute facility 3 weeks ago. She is slowly able to walk with a walker and she is still confused. She had been having problems eating throwing up and runs after anything she ate for about 9 months.

Adjustment Disorder Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

In this article, we will explain what wet brain is, symptoms to look for, and treatment. Unfortunately, for patients who reach this stage of an alcoholic wet brain, symptoms are irreversible and parts of the brain often begin to die. This deficiency can also be caused by malnutrition, anorexia, AIDs, certain types of cancer, and specific surgeries. Therefore, even people who don’t have an alcohol addiction have a chance of developing this syndrome. Wet brain is a progressive syndrome, so the sooner you can get medical help, the more likely you are to prevent further brain damage.

  • The first stage of WKS is a neurological disorder called Wernicke’s encephalopathy .
  • In other cases, where the brain damage is severe, memory and gait may remain permanently impaired.
  • Its deficiency may cause swelling of the intracellular space and local disruption of the blood-brain barrier.
  • While some effects of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may be permanent, the best way to avoid further damage is to stop drinking safely, with professional help, and to embrace a life in recovery.

Heavy drinkers should consider taking anywhere from 50mg to 100mg of oral thiamine supplements per day. A person with mild thiamine deficiency should take between 5mg and 30mg of thiamine a day. Some pharmacies or grocery stores will stock these supplements as well. Our medical staff will assess your situation to determine the dose and type of medications to prescribe. It handles cellular production of energy, and enhances neuronal activities. It’s also responsible for managing and regulating many other critical bodily functions. Wet brain is a serious condition that can be difficult to diagnose.

Wernicke’s Encephalopathy

In the brain, thiamine is required both by the nerve cells (i.e., neurons) and by other supporting cells in the nervous system (i.e., glia cells). At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we understand there’s no simple solution to substance abuse. We’ve felt the hopelessness of active addiction and found a way out. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse and alcoholism, seek treatment today. Depriving the thiamine brain for a long time can damage the cerebellum, which is the region responsible for coordination, movement, and memory. Wernicke encephalopathy is caused by prolonged thiamine deficiency in the brain and manifests as a series of degenerative physical symptoms that can be reversed when treated promptly.

  • A smaller percentage of patients experience a decrease in reaction time of the pupils to light stimuli and swelling of the optic disc which may be accompanied by retinal hemorrhage.
  • In some cases, this could lead to a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, more commonly known as “wet brain.” What is wet brain?
  • EVERY person we worked with was not only professional but caring and supportive.
  • Contact Nova Recovery Center today for more information on our individualized drug and alcohol addiction recovery program.

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. Thepatient must be sober to be diagnosedwith Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, though. Without thiamine, the brain can’t process glucose, robbing the brain of energy . This can lead to a serious neurological disorder known as «wet brain syndrome»—better known in the medical community as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. For heavy drinkers, these seemingly innocent memory lapses can evolve to slurred speech, an unsteady walk, violent muscle twitches or hallucinations, signaling alcohol-induced brain damage. If left untreated, the damage can progress to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Over time, this disease develops as the result of a deficiency of the vitamin thiamine. Wernicke’s encephalopathy devolves into Korsakoff’s psychosis when wet brain goes undiagnosed and untreated. At this stage, a person with this condition might find it difficult to walk or become confused when engaging in daily activities such as getting dressed. Around 80 to 90% of people with alcohol use disorder who have Wernicke’s encephalopathy develop Korsakoff’s psychosis. At its core, wet brain is a form of brain damage from severe, long-term alcohol abuse.

What Is Korsakoffs Psychosis?

Although heavy, compulsive drinking prevents people from eating healthy food, alcohol also prevents the body from absorbing thiamine and leeches it from the body. The liver naturally releases thiamine into the body in an active state. The thiamine stored in the liver is rendered inactive and unusable once a person begins to drink heavily and often.

Long-term alcohol use irritates your stomach and digestive tract. An estimated Wet Brain from Alcoholism 80% of people with alcohol addiction don’t absorb or retain enough thiamine.

Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Unfortunately for those who deal with Wernicke Encephalopathy, Korsakoff Syndrome is one residual effect of this problem. The problem is characterized by global amnesia and cognitive and behavioral dysfunction.

If you are suffering from alcohol abuse, it’s important to take the necessary action in order to prevent wet brain symptoms from developing in your life. As we mentioned earlier, the symptoms of the final stages of wet brain are less likely to be treatable and can even be fatal.

Understanding The Potential Risks Of Developing Wet Brain

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