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How to deal with Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

  • Posted on- Sep 02, 2015
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Written by site author.

There are many serious health consequences associated with alcohol abuse. If a person is unable to control their alcoholism, they could develop very serious health problems later on in life. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, it is very important that they seek medical intervention as soon as possible. Without the help of an alcohol detox drug treatment facility, it is very unlikely that a person will be able to get over their addiction to alcohol. With the help of a detox and medical professionals, a person will be able to take their lives back.

Who It Affects

Wernicke Korsakoff greatly affects the memory as well as vision. This condition is the conglomeration of both diseases. Wernicke Korsakoff is also known as wet brain, Korsakoff psychosis, Wernicke disease and encephalopathy. This disease occurs due to a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is vitamin B1 or beriberi. This is due to alcohol abuse as well as severe malnutrition.

Physical Disorder

Wernicke encephalopathy is characterized as confusion, involuntary eye movement impaired eye movement, ataxia, sluggish papillary reactions, coma and sudden death are possible if left untreated. Korsakoff psychosis is characterized by anterograde amnesia, which is the inability to form new memories, the loss of existing memories which is retrograde amnesia, confabulation, or false perceptions or memories, as well as hallucinations.


Wernicke occurs first and then Korsakoff follows. It can also be brought about following severe malnutrition. When it occurs in alcoholics it is attributed to the infarction or atrophy of specific regions of the brain, most notably the mamillary bodies. Other affected areas include the thalamus which causes the amnesic symptoms, as well as the medial dorsal thalamus, the raphe nuclei, and the basal forebrain. Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome is normally found in those who are classified as chronic alcoholics. It is a result of a thiamine deficiency.

Memory Loss

In terms of memory, short term memory may be affected severely, and often only long term memory is recalled, however it depends on when the degeneration began. Some may really believe that the date is actually ten years off because that's all they remember. The symptoms of this syndrome will include muscular issues, involuntary eye movements, confabulation regarding questioning, memory issues, and an individual suffering from this co-morbid disorder may avoid sunlight. They may prefer to spend their time in dark rooms.

Treatment Options

Treatment for Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome includes quitting drinking immediately. It also consists of reversing the thiamine deficiency that has caused the disorder. This is done by giving supplemental thiamine. This is more often than not done with an initial IV dose or an intramuscular dose which is then followed by oral doses. However, it is important to note that once amnesia and psychosis have developed a complete and full recovery is very unlikely.

Alcoholism can have serious, long term effects on an individual's health. Without getting ideal help, a person will have a very low chance of being able to stop drinking on their own. If you or someone you know is struggling from an addiction to alcohol, it is imperative that they seek a medical intervention as soon as they possibly can.


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20-03-2016 05:00 PM

People taking huge amount of alcohol have no idea of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. They take it lightly.

user profile image
09-10-2015 01:56 PM

Alcohol should be taken in a limited amount and preventive measures should be taken.

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