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


Wet brain can be extremely difficult to deal with as a family member or loved one of the afflicted individuals, but it is even worse if the problem is affecting you. It can be scary and frustrating, so try to have as much patience with your loved one as you can. Mission Harbor is dedicated to treating Santa Barbara County and Los Angeles County with specialized mental and behavioral health programs in a convenient outpatient environment. Our treatment facility is accredited by the Joint Commission and LegitScript Certified.

  • Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption could challenge the body’s ability to process and store thiamine correctly.
  • As a cognitive behavioral neurologist, I’ve been hearing from many individuals who are complaining of “brain fog” after infection with COVID-19.
  • For example, patients with Wernicke’s encephalopathy
    may be too confused to find their way out of a room or may not even be able to
  • However, when a person drinks to excess, the liver cannot filter the alcohol fast enough, and this triggers immediate changes in the brain.
  • 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.
  • However, it will not improve symptoms related to memory loss or cognitive impairment.
  • It is extremely important that if you suspect you or someone you love suffers from wet brain syndrome, you get them the help they need.

One can prevent Wet brain by watching what you eat and taking vitamin supplements. When Wet brain symptoms are detected, prompt treatment can prevent or delay the progression of the disease. In addition, prompt treatments can also reverse the temporary brain abnormalities. While taking supplements can help, the best preventative measure is to abstain from drinking. Those who have a drinking problem should learn how to manage their drinking. Raising awareness around eating disorders is essential for breaking the stigma and allowing people to seek treatment.

Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome Treatment and Diagnosis Criteria

If it is not treated or managed, this part of the condition could even become life threatening. At Wellness Retreat Recovery, we offer comprehensive and evidence-based care to help individuals overcome their addiction to alcohol and achieve lasting recovery. One of the primary treatment options we offer is inpatient rehab for alcohol addiction. Untreated, long-term alcoholism can result in a host of negative consequences, from social isolation and unemployment to fatal cirrhosis of the liver.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (wet brain syndrome) is a neurological condition that consists of two different syndromes. The primary symptoms of Korsakoff’s psychosis are memory impairment and loss. The person is no longer able to form new memories in the later stages of the condition; they lose memories progressively as brain tissue is damaged over the course of the illness. While Wernicke encephalopathy does not always lead to the second stage of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, about 80 to 90 percent of alcoholics who experience this stage will develop Korsakoff syndrome.

The Blurred Lines Between Alcohol Use and Alcohol Addiction

Group therapy helps the person develop a network of peers that can support the individual’s focus on maintaining sobriety. Group and family therapy help to build new relationships and rebuild existing relationships, so the individual has additional support once they leave the program. Unfortunately, while doctors can still treat this disease, patients will never fully recover.

Alcohol inhibits the absorption of thiamine in the intestines, the primary part of the body where nutrients enter the bloodstream. An essential nutrient, vitamin B1 must be obtained by eating food containing thiamine, such as poultry, peas, brown rice, whole grains, and bread. Changes in vision begin with eyelid drooping and double vision, which are also similar to signs mush brain of alcohol intoxication. However, these vision changes do not improve during periods of sobriety, and the person is likely to experience worsening of vision problems, which lead to nystagmus, a rapid back-and-forth movement of the eyes. In general, the three main symptoms to be on the lookout for include abnormal eye movements, a staggering gait and confusion.

Can Alcohol Permanently Damage Your Brain and Your Body?

Not drinking during pregnancy is the best form
of prevention; FAS remains the leading preventable birth defect in the
United States today. Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and related disorders. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

What are 5 signs of Korsakoff’s syndrome?

  • Mental confusion.
  • Vision problems.
  • Coma.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Lack of muscle coordination (ataxia)

Even if a person is diagnosed with wet brain, it may still be very difficult for them to abstain from consuming alcohol. This is especially true if the person is addicted to alcohol or physically dependent on it, which can be difficult for friends and family members to accept. It’s important to remember, however, that alcohol addiction is a chronic and powerful disease and the way an alcoholic behaves won’t always make sense to loved ones. The best way to find out if you have wet brain or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is to see a doctor.

This causes nerve damage, and disrupts the flow of information to and from the brain. These changes lead to things like numbness, tremors, and vision problems. Certain nerves overreact to triggers, such https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/why-alcohol-makes-you-feel-hot-and-sweat-after-drinking/ as stress or bright light. This sets off a wave of activity, which causes chemicals to narrow blood vessels in the brain. Over time, chronic migraines might cause to you lose some gray and white matter.

Alcohol hinders a person’s absorption of thiamine and interferes with the enzyme that converts it into a usable form in the body. According to a 2021 study in Scientific Reports, heavy drinking could lead to loss of brain volume. The researchers found that people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) had less brain matter than people without AUD. The affected brain regions controlled skills like attention, language, memory, and reasoning. By changing your brain, alcohol can therefore lead to worse memory and impaired judgments, among other changes. Approximately 80
to 90 percent of alcoholics with Wernicke’s encephalopathy also develop
Korsakoff’s psychosis, a chronic and debilitating syndrome characterized
by persistent learning and memory problems.

If a person with wet brain is unconscious or in a coma, they will need special care in a medical environment, and potentially, for a longer period, depending on the severity of their symptoms. When you have MS, your immune system attacks the nerves in your brain and spinal cord. Your body sends white blood cells to harm the myelin, the layer of insulation around nerves.

When the brain does not have enough thiamine, it struggles to convert sugar into the energy it needs for normal, healthy function. The condition damages parts of the brain responsible for movement and coordination. Depending on when the disease was treated, the prognosis differs. In general, if doctors catch the disease early and are able to treat it, the prognosis is quite good. Thiamine supplements will improve most symptoms other than memory loss and cognitive impairment.


The first and most important thing to do is to see your doctor and share with them all of the lingering symptoms you are experiencing. Recently I received an email from a man who described how he is still struggling with “cognitive challenges” since recovering from the virus in the spring of 2020. Like this man, many people who have recovered from the acute, life-threatening effects of COVID-19, but still don’t feel that their thinking and memory are back to normal. People who drink regularly may also notice that booze doesn’t have the same effect on them as it used to. “With chronic drinking, the wiring element to your brain’s reward system can get worn out and lose some of its normal functioning,” said Pagano. “You build up a tolerance, and after a while, you don’t feel as good as you once did with the same amounts of alcohol.”