What Is Wet Brain Syndrome?

What Is Wet Brain Syndrome?

Summit Malibu is the longest running boutique addiction treatment center in Malibu, California. Our residential rehab program offers dual diagnosis drug and alcohol addiction treatment to heal the mind, body, and soul. Summit Malibu is Joint Commission Accredited and licensed by the California Department of Health Care Services. The answer to this question depends on how far the condition has progressed. The first stage of wet brain, Wernicke encephalopathy, is an acute condition. Early intervention during this stage can help to reverse those symptoms.

For some, taking a strong oral thiamine supplement to boost thiamine levels is enough to sufficiently increase thiamine levels to notice some healing. In other cases, where the brain damage is severe, memory and gait may remain permanently impaired.

What is “Wet Brain?” Understanding the Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

And, unfortunately, the effects of wet brain can even lead to coma or death. The symptoms can take a toll on an individual, which ultimately may decrease their life expectancy. This deficiency can also be caused by malnutrition, anorexia, AIDs, certain types of cancer, and specific surgeries. Therefore, even people who don’t have an alcohol addiction have a chance of developing this syndrome. The thiamine supplements can improve certain symptoms, like delirium and confusion.

  • It can be difficult to diagnose wet brain because one of the primary symptoms is confusion.
  • According to theNIAAAresearch, abstinence from alcohol and increased levels of nutrition have been shown to reverse symptoms of wet brain.
  • Some alcohol rehab programs include cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • 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 mortality rate for Wernicke’s encephalopathy is only at about 10% to 20%.
  • Upward of 80–90 percent of people make this disastrous transition.

This part of the condition only develops if the first part is never treated. Unfortunately,about 80% to 90% of alcoholicswill end up developing Korsakoff’s psychosis. This part of the disease is not only long lasting, but also debilitating. By this point, patients have sustained a significant amount of brain damage. If it is left untreated, it can cause a significant amount of damage within the affected individual. Alcoholics, in particular, should familiarize themselves with this disease.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

When an alcoholic develops wet brain syndrome it is a sign of late stage disease. Learn more about wet brain and how to get help for alcohol dependence.

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First, neurological symptoms, such as vision problems and problems with muscle coordination, usually present themselves. Impaired mental functioning, such as memory loss, wet brain typically follows. Wet brain goes by many different names, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, alcohol dementia, alcoholic encephalopathy and Korsakoff psychosis.

PTSD and Addiction

In 2015 alone, 15.1 million adults struggled with an alcohol use disorder . Chronic alcoholics, especially in the United States, are at the greatest risk of developing wet brain syndrome or its symptoms. Treatment for this condition is typically focused on controlling symptoms that already exist and preventing them from worsening over time. Unfortunately, it is not likely that symptoms that have already begun to form could be reversed. Some individuals need to stay in a hospital where they can receive vitamin B1 injections.

wet brain syndrome

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. Research conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association estimates thatwhen caught early enough, approximately 25 percent of people will recover, 50 percent will improve and 25 percent will stay the same. However, once the syndrome has progressed to the point of no return—no new memories or experiences, no reversing the symptoms—the disease is generally fatal. The grim reality of chronic alcohol abuse is that the body can only handle so much; and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a tragic, heartbreaking consequence of the abusive nature of alcoholism. A failure to diagnose this syndrome leads to death in 20 percent of cases, and long-term brain damage in 75 percent.


When most people think about drinking-related problems, they picture car accidents, fights, and run-ins with the police. But problem drinking can also lead to a range of severe and sometimes irreversible health problems. 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. These dietary deficits can lead to a condition called wet brain. Wet brain is a severe condition and can cause permanent damage to the brain and its functions.

wet brain syndrome

The first stage of wet brain, Wernicke’s encephalopathy, is 100% reversible with thiamine injections and cessation of alcohol. But if the condition is left untreated and a person continues to drink, they will https://ecosoberhouse.com/ go on to develop Korsakoff’s psychosis. The onset of Wernicke encephalopathy is considered a medical emergency, and thus thiamine administration should be initiated immediately when the disease is suspected.

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