Wet brain: what every alcoholic should know

What is ‘Wet Brain’?

A wet mind is much more than just a brain soaked in alcohol. Did you know that there is a very real and very serious brain disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome? Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is caused by severe malnutrition, and is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1. It is most commonly seen in alcoholics and others who are severely malnourished. This can also include people suffering from anorexia and bulimia.

In alcoholics, WKS often goes undetected because the signs are often mistaken for intoxication. If you understand what Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is, and recognize the warning signs early, it can be treated and progression can be stopped.

What are the symptoms of a wet wart?

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome There are actually two separate syndromes—Wornicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis—named after the doctors who discovered them. The two overlap and develop almost simultaneously, making the symptoms look like the same disease. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of both parts of the disease to know how far the disease has progressed, and to determine whether treatment is necessary.

Wernicke’s encephalopathy:

The first stage of this disease is the part that starts affecting the brain. You will notice that these symptoms have started to appear:

  • slow eye movements, lazy eye, drooping eyelids, rapid eye movements, such as twitching of the eyes, blinking

  • loss of muscle coordination, staggering, loss of balance

  • confusion, loss of short-term memory and intelligence

  • lethargy, depression, inability to pay attention

  • Tremors in hands and feet, then tremors in hands and feet

  • muscle twitching and muscle pain

Because these symptoms so closely mimic those of addiction, they go unnoticed until the alcoholic is able to maintain abstinence for a significant length of time. Only when the symptoms cannot be blamed on addiction does it become clear that something else is wrong.

Korsakoff Psychosis:

Stage two develops as the symptoms of stage one go away. Here are the symptoms you may see:

  • Progressive memory loss, amnesia (permanently lost memories)

  • Confusion, Difficulty learning or understanding new information, Forgetting things that happened moments ago

  • Delusions, lying to compensate for the fact that they can’t remember things

Can Wet Brain Be Cured?

At this point, step two, the damage is usually not reversible. Most never recover from the effects of WKS, such as the memory loss that began with Wernicke’s first symptoms. Treatment, at this point, is key to controlling the symptoms and keeping them from getting worse. It is a progressive disease; It will only get worse with time. It is a type of dementia similar to Alzheimer’s that is not reversible and eventually causes death. About 20% of people who develop it will die from it if left untreated. Treatment, however, can slow or stop it.


Treatment involves correcting thiamine deficiency, first by injection, then by giving it orally. Hospitalization may be necessary at this time, until some health is restored to the patient. This late-onset thiamine treatment will not improve any loss of memory or intelligence, but may improve the person’s thinking and clear up some confusion. They have also found that some of the drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s may help improve some memory damage, but studies are still ongoing.

Source by Cindy S.

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