Wet Brain: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

The official medical term for wet brain syndrome is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. However, many individuals, both in the medical field and out of it, refer to it as Wet Brain. Another, less common used, name for this condition is alcohol dementia. When it comes to alcoholism and the mush brain health problems it can cause, liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, or fatty liver, and changes in personality or moods are often the first things that come to mind. What people tend to not think about, or might not even know about, is a condition known as wet brain.

  • Generally, the deficiency can be caused due to improper diet or to those who are heavy drinkers.
  • You need this vitamin to supply your brain with adequate amounts of energy.
  • There are numerous enzymes in the brain that need thiamine to function, including many important neurotransmitters.
  • Alcohol use disorders are medical conditions and, like any other disease, often require professional treatment and management.

You may also experience problems such as low blood pressure and hypothermia. Learn more about our rehab center in Los Angeles or our addiction recovery therapeutic activities. Most people have a basic understanding of the dangers of excessive drinking – either too much periodically or regularly for many years straight. This website utilizes various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilize an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.

What is A Dual Diagnosis and How Does it Affect Alcoholics?

Wet brain happens when a person is deficient in vitamin B1, or thiamine. The body needs adequate levels of thiamine, a water-soluble vitamin, for heart and nervous system function. Thiamine also helps the body maintain the right levels of glucose in the bloodstream.

wet brain from alcoholism

These are not the only benefits of attending rehabilitation for substance use disorders. Other health conditions caused by chronic alcohol abuse like other brain disorders, liver damage, heart disease and cancer may also be avoided, reversed or prevented from worsening. Moreover, those struggling with addiction can heal and rebuild healthier, happier and more productive lives.

How Does Chronic Drinking Affect the Brain?

As such, we recommend that the term “wet brain” be avoided in favor of the more accurate “Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.” This is accomplished through treating both the condition and the substance abuse that started the process. People who drink heavily are likely to develop this condition, known medically as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, because of the way alcohol behaves in the digestive tract. People who have been struggling with alcoholism for many years are likely to develop these two conditions together as a result of the thiamine depletion in the brain. About percent of the people who develop Wernicke’s encephalopathy will subsequently develop Korsakoff’s psychosis. Wet brain is a condition in which a person becomes malnourished in vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine.

How can you tell if someone has brain damage from alcohol?

Cognitive and memory problems

Difficulty in processing new information – not being able to recall times, dates, appointments they've recently been given, or to remember people they've just met.

Treatment may include the administration of thiamine through an IV or as a supplement to boost thiamine levels and improve symptoms. Symptoms cannot be reversed if the disease progresses into the second stage. The first stage of wet brain syndrome is Wernicke’s encephalopathy (WE), a short-term neurological disorder. WE is defined by three significant symptoms, including mental confusion and lack of interest, loss of muscle coordination while standing or walking, eye movement dysfunction, and vision issues. During these final stages of wet brain syndrome, treatment can manage symptoms, but brain damage from drinking is severe and permanent. Patients who suffer from Korsakoff psychosis may be unable to care for themselves.

How wet brain is diagnosed

Most patients require a proper diet regimen to boost all of the low nutrient levels that are usually caused by malnutrition. This first step for the treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome symptoms is likely to continue daily for several months, though a patient might event begin taking oral thiamine supplements. Overall, the condition is present in about 1 to 2 percent of the population between the ages of 30 to 70-years old. Men usually appear to experience a slightly greater risk for the condition than women.

wet brain from alcoholism

About 1-2 percent of the population is affected by wet brain, according to research by the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Men suffering from alcohol abuse, between years, are slightly more affected than women of the same age. Of those who develop Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, about 25 percent require long-term treatment in a hospital setting. There’s no single test for the syndrome, but a good indication, particularly when disorientation and confusion are apparent, is testing vitamin B1 levels in the blood.

The second reason heavy alcohol consumption causes thiamine deficiency is because alcohol prevents the liver from working properly. The alcohol will prevent the liver from converting the thiamine into a usable form. This causes the body to not be able to have enough thiamine to properly function. Alcohol use disorder is the primary cause of wet brain, so recovery should start as soon as possible.

  • In addition to this biological factor, many alcoholics have lifestyles that can contribute to thiamine deficiency, such as a poor diet lacking in essential nutrients.
  • This disorder affects the thalamus and hypothalamus, leading to psychological and physical symptoms like memory problems, leg tremors, vision difficulties, visual or auditory hallucinations, and delusions.

In addition, they may make up false stories without consciously meaning to deceive. For example, you may undergo unusual changes in your normal behavior. In addition, you may walk unsteadily or feel disoriented or delirious. If you or a loved need to safely detox from drugs or alcohol, contact Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center Today. Mixing antidepressants and alcohol is not recommended, as alcohol can worsen depression symptoms. The thiamine will help address problems of confusion or delirium, as well as vision and muscle coordination.

Most people consume enough thiamine to prevent the development of this condition. However, people who struggle with alcohol use disorder may focus on consuming alcohol instead of eating a balanced diet, with whole grains and lean proteins. In other cases, alcohol can upset the stomach and the person may experience loss of appetite, or vomiting, which can reduce sources of thiamine. The liver stores some thiamine, although not very much, and damage to the liver from long-term alcohol abuse can prevent storage and release of this vitamin nutrient into the body.

Summit Malibu is Joint Commission Accredited and licensed by the California Department of Health Care Services. As the symptoms become worse for patients in the advanced stages of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, somewhere around 10 to 20 percent will experience a coma and then death. In short, wet brain is a condition brought on by a deficiency of thiamine, which is more commonly known as Vitamin B1. Wernicke-Korsakoff https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/6-successfull-and-motivational-sobriety-stories/ Syndrome, which is named for two doctors, Carl Wernicke and Sergei Korsakoff, can cause debilitating brain damage, and if not diagnosed and treated may ultimately lead to death. Depending on a patient’s prognosis, care may need to be supportive and focused on managing symptoms. For example, patients with severe memory impairment or confusion may need to receive care in a long-term residential facility.

In addition to your treatment plan, the following management techniques can help you make a full recovery. Not everyone with Wernicke’s encephalopathy will also develop Korsakoff’s psychosis; it typically develops due to misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment of the former condition. Wet brain is a disorder of the brain caused by a chronic thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. It’s also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), named after German neurologist Carl Wernicke and neuropsychiatrist Sergei Korsakoff. Because people with Korsakoff syndrome can hallucinate, they might hear or see things that aren’t there. Although some hallucinations could be harmless, there is always the risk that hallucination provokes them to do something dangerous or harmful.

  • Thiamine is a very crucial vitamin that the body needs for various functions.
  • However, doctors may suspect thiamine deficiency or malnutrition based on physical appearance.
  • Seeking help from an addiction treatment program is crucial for individuals suffering from wet brain syndrome, as the disorder will progress if alcohol consumption continues.
  • Transketolase is an important
    enzyme in a biochemical pathway called the pentose phosphate pathway.

Wet brain life expectancy is an important consideration when considering its permanency. Alcohol addiction, even if it has not progressed to the point of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, can considerably decrease life expectancy. Research has shown that people who are hospitalized for alcohol misuse die 24 to 28 years sooner compared to people in the general population.

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