However, stopping when you are dependent on a substance is not always so easy. Alcohol use disorders are medical conditions and, like any other disease, often require professional treatment and management. Seeking treatment for an alcohol use disorder can help one recover from wet brain, as well as the many other problems caused by alcohol abuse.
Because wet brain, or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, is so debilitating and fatal, it is important to take any symptoms you or your loved one may experience seriously. Additionally, you should know the signs of alcohol abuse and get treatment and recovery support before you sustain any further damage. Most people are aware that the body – especially the liver – can have a difficult time processing large amounts of alcohol. Wet brain syndrome is a form of dementia that is caused by prolonged abuse of ETOH (ethyl alcohol/ethanol) or alcoholic behaviors. The official term for this disease is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS). Following an experience with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, it is possible someone could still have a normal life expectancy.
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The excessive consumption of alcohol can cause a deficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1, which is an essential vitamin for the proper functioning of the brain and body. Alcoholism interferes with the consumption, absorption, and activation of thiamine in your system. The wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is actually the occurrence mush brain of two syndromes. Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome are two separate conditions though they commonly occur together because they are both caused by a thiamine deficiency. Wernicke encephalopathy usually occurs first and causes damage to the thalamus and hypothalamus, which are in the lower part of the brain.
Thiamine depletion is seen in those with poor nutrition and is a common complication of long-term heavy drinking. In only a few short weeks, as recovery progresses, the brain structures that were impacted by alcoholism begin to recover. Brain tissue volume is restored, cognitive function improves, and memories return. Most damage to the brain can be reversed by the five-year mark of recovery. Symptoms can vary depending on the stage and progression of the disorder. For instance, agitation, anger, hallucinations, and false memories are more likely to present at later stages (Korsakoff’s syndrome).
Why Wernicke-Korsakoff is often not caught in time
We specialize in treating alcoholism in an outpatient setting, and we can also treat any co-occurring mental health disorders to streamline your recovery. To minimize health risks, detox should only be attempted under close medical supervision. The detox team will provide the needed treatments to help reduce withdrawal symptoms as they emerge.
- When someone who was in the late stages of alcoholism, such as someone with wet brain, the detox process can become risky.
- The best process for most people is to get professional help to safely detox from alcohol and then progress into a complete rehabilitation program.
- But, if left untreated, Wernicke encephalopathy can progress to the second stage.
- Although this is not recommended, occasional heavy drinking will not cause wet brain.
- Like any other medical condition, alcohol use disorders require professional, evidence-based treatment from trained, experienced professionals.
- Wet brain syndrome is a form of dementia that primarily affects chronic, long-term alcoholics at the end stages of their disease.
- When Wernicke’s encephalopathy is left untreated, and a person continues to abuse alcohol, they will likely develop Korsakoff’s psychosis.
Someone with confabulation will often repeat these made-up memories, thinking they are real. This gives them the appearance of lying when it is actually related to their brain damage. Thiamine is essential for converting sugar to energy in our bodies and creating chemical messengers in our brains. Chronic alcohol users often have inflamed digestive tracts, making it difficult for the body to absorb the thiamine it needs from the foods they consume. Wet brain syndrome (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome) is caused by nutritional deficiencies most commonly brought on by chronic heavy drinking. As we mentioned, 80-90% of patients who do not seek treatment for these symptoms end up developing Karsakoff’s psychosis.
You may have heard the term “wet brain” in connection with long-term, heavy alcohol use. It’s a colloquial term for the medical condition Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This brain disorder refers https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/what-to-do-if-you-cant-sleep-without-alcohol/ to two separate conditions that often occur together. The first stage is Wernicke encephalopathy, then Korsakoff syndrome can develop after the symptoms of the first disorder begin to lessen.
Lifestyle factors can also lead individuals with alcohol use disorders to get less vitamin B in their diet. Technically anyone can develop wet brain, which occurs when a person is severely deficient in vitamin b1, also known as thiamine. This can happen through poor nutrition, for example, or certain illnesses such as eating disorders. However, wet brain is more common in people who have a history of alcohol abuse. In the united states, alcohol abuse is the leading cause of thiamine deficiency.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a specific type of brain damage that is caused directly by chronic alcohol abuse. This debilitating condition is often referred to as wet brain since it is a condition where brain impairment is caused by excess alcohol consumption. But what is wet brain, exactly, and how does alcohol consumption cause it? The cause of wet brain is a lack of thiamine, or vitamin B1, which can lead to dementia or cognitive impairment. Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B1, and those with alcohol use disorder often focus on consuming alcohol rather than eating a balanced diet. This combination of factors can cause damage to the brain’s thalamus and hypothalamus, leading to severe memory problems.
What is the life expectancy of a person with wet brain?
Life expectancy Wet brain, or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, is highly variable. One study found over 50% of patients diagnosed with the condition are expected to die within 8 years.
There are enzymes in the brain that need thiamine, including several critical neurotransmitters. When someone doesn’t get enough thiamine over a long period of time, they will develop brain damage or wet brain. The easiest way to identify signs of wet brain is by observing if the effects of alcohol and heavy drinking are present even if the person is sober. Early diagnosis and treatment can reverse some of the symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which is the first stage of the condition. Administering high doses of thiamine is the first course of action when treating wet brain because the brain severely lacks the nutrient. However, this is most effective in the early stages of the condition, where thiamine can still help to improve brain function.
How to get help with alcoholism
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. This inflammation eventually causes permanent damage called Korsakoff syndrome. The disorder is broken down into two stages called Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis. Wet brain recovery for alcoholism will include counseling for reframing using thoughts and behavior patterns, teaching healthy coping skills for unwanted feelings and relapse prevention. For someone who suffers from Wernicke-Koraskoff syndrome, alcohol treatment may also include reality orientation, memory exercises, and physical therapy.
Instead, those whose symptoms are so severe where further treatment isn’t possible require long-term care programs or assisted living programs. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell if a person is suffering from WKS or if they are just intoxicated, as many symptoms of WKS are similar to those of alcohol intoxication or withdrawal. Similarly, many people who develop wet brain have progressed so far in their alcoholism that they have a diminished social circle, struggling finances, or lack of access to resources.