Wet Brain Syndrome: Definition, Stages, and Symptoms

Wet brain is a layman’s term for a brain disorder known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Some scientists also believe, however, that it is two parts of the same condition, with Wernicke’s encephalopathy being the acute phase and Korsakoff’s syndrome being the chronic stage. It can lead to severe complications, including permanent brain damage, chronic memory problems, a coma, and even death. If wet brain syndrome is left unchecked, it can result in permanent cognitive impairments, motor coordination challenges, and hallucinations. When these symptoms become long term, they cause lasting brain and nerve cell damage.

  • It’s essential to note that many of these symptoms can mimic intoxication or the signs of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.
  • If untreated, wet brain can also lead to permanent brain damage that cannot be reversed, even if alcohol use is stopped and thiamine levels are fully replaced.

This disease and other alcohol-related diseases can reduce the lives of their sufferers by as much as 30 years. Once WKS progresses to the point that there are noticeable symptoms, the prognosis for the individual is not good. Significant short-term intervention is required, while about 25 percent of patients will need long-term institutionalization.

Talk briefly about the treatment and progression of the disorder.

The best way to prevent wet brain syndrome is to avoid heavy alcohol use. It is not reversible and affects the part of the brain that processes and stores memories. The condition is also referred to as alcoholic dementia because of its ability to cause severe memory loss and induce hallucinations and behavioral changes, which are all hallmarks of dementia.

Once thiamine levels in the brain drop, it takes about 4 days for cellular and tissue swelling to begin in the brain. Within 7 days, endothelial cells malfunction, leading to neuron death and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier (high-risk factors for stroke). After 14 days, the brain damage is mostly irreversible and fatal. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can occur from reasons other than alcohol use; however, the term “wet brain” refers only to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome caused by alcohol use.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, is important because is essential for carbohydrate metabolism and the normal function of the nervous system. It’s also a cofactor for the production of key enzymes that enable our brain to function properly. An alcohol abuse problem can include binge drinking, having negative consequences such as hangovers with your drinking but continuing anyway, and drinking despite the desire to stop.

If you are lucky to have gotten an early diagnosis, the damage done to your brain is still reversible. In addition to your treatment plan, the following management techniques can help you make a full recovery. Other vitamins and supplements which will help your body more effectively produce and utilize thiamine might also be recommended by your doctor. However, thiamine does little to help with Korsakoff’s psychosis as it can’t help to reverse memory loss. Ongoing treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome includes abstinence from alcohol, adequate nutrition, and vitamin supplementation.

How long does it take to get wet brain?

A healthy diet that includes vitamin B1 will reduce your chances of the wet brain occurring again in the future. Vitamin B1 should be given as soon as possible to patients presenting with symptoms of the wet brain. A Vitamin B1 injection will help to address symptoms of confusion, delirium, vision problems, and trouble with muscle coordination. Wet brain is a progressive syndrome, so the sooner you can get medical help, the more likely you are to prevent further brain damage.

wet brain

Research shows that 80-90% of alcoholics who develop Wernicke’s encephalopathy progress to the Korsakoff’s psychosis phase. Alcohol affects how the body absorbs thiamine, and people who misuse alcohol are also frequently malnourished, further increasing the problem. Thiamine deficiency causes inflammation called Wernicke encephalopathy.

We take our music-focused treatment for addiction very seriously, so we are going to hold our content to the same precision standards. Recovery Unplugged’s https://ecosoberhouse.com/ editorial process involves our editing safeguard and our ideals. The lessening of Wernicke Encephalopathy symptoms is not a sure cause for celebration.

  • This stage is caused by inflammation that occurs in the brain and is temporary.
  • The early stage, known as Wernicke encephalopathy, is more intense but reversible.
  • A proper diagnosis of wet brain can’t be made for a person with alcohol use disorder until they are in recovery.
  • Some alcohol rehab programs include cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • If you or a loved one has Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, the outlook depends on the severity of symptoms and a timely diagnosis.

Seek care immediately if you or a loved one experiences symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. WKS also happens in people who can’t properly absorb food due to certain conditions. It may develop after weight loss (bariatric) surgery or as a side effect of chemotherapy. Take back your life by seeking a compassionate addiction treatment center that wants to join you as a supportive partner in your recovery journey. Once the proper balance has been thrown off, it’s difficult for the gut to absorb the right nutrients from food.

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