What Is The Wet Brain Syndrome?

Not many people know this, but chronic alcoholics are in great danger of contracting the Wet Brain syndrome. Wet Brain, or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, is a form of brain damage. Contrary to popular belief, brain damage from alcohol abuse isn’t caused by killing the brain cells. Studies have indicated that it is in fact, actually caused by thiamine deficiency. Because alcohol affects the body’s ability to absorb thiamine, Vitamin B1, chronic alcohol abuse often results in wet brain. However, thiamine deficiency and wet brain are always caused by alcohol abuse; severe mal-nourishment or constant vomiting, bulimia, can also cause wet brain.

Thiamine is essential for allowing glucose to be converted in the brain. For this reason, those with thiamine deficiencies should not take large amounts of sugar or carbohydrates. Over a time period, the deficiency leads to brain cell death and can cause structural damage to certain areas of the brain, including the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the pons.

The best way to prevent Wet Brain is to avoid heavy drinking and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Of course for alcoholics, it’s easier said than done. Chronic alcoholics find it hard to get all the nutrition they need due to nausea. Since alcohol blocks the absorption of thiamine, alcoholics need to take vitamin supplements since their diet anyway goes for a toss. Some of the symptoms of Wet Brain are listed below-

– Staggering or an irregular gait.

– Lack of muscular coordination.

– Confabulation.

– Confusion; often manifests as an apparent apathy and unresponsiveness to verbal communication

– Difficulty forming new memories.

– Dementia.

– Hallucinations.

– Loss of control over eye movements like strange eye movements, double vision, drooping eyelids.

Wet Brain has a mortality of around 20%. If caught in the initial stages, it can be treated. The first stage, known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy, the person can still be treated if given prompt thiamine injections. If the diseases advances to the stage 2, and is untreated, known as Korsakoff’s psychosis, the damage is permanent and generally irreversible; the condition can be ameliorated through treatment and some symptoms can be managed.

If wet brain is treated early enough, patient’s can be expected to make a full recovery. This article is just for informative purposes; not many people know of this syndrome. So if you know an alcoholic suffering from any of the above symptoms, get them tested for the Wet Brain syndrome.


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Sagar is co-founder and CTO at Multia, a leading creative agency in Pune. He started his venture when he was 16, he has won numerous international and national web development competitions and has worked on 100+ web, mobile and online marketing projects. He’s a globe-trotter and has traveled to San Francisco, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dubai, Jakarta and Bali Islands.

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