What Is Wet Brain?

This article describes the normal role of thiamine in brain functioning as well as the pathological consequences that result from thiamine deficiency. Specific actions of thiamine on a cellular level then are reviewed, followed by a discussion of how alcohol affects the body’s processing and availability of thiamine as well as thiamine utilization by the cells. “Wet brain” is a term used to describe the chronic brain disorder, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome or Korsakoff’s psychosis. Wet brain, or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome , is a brain disorder related to the acute and chronic phases of a vitamin B1 deficiency. Thiamine depletion is seen in individuals with poor nutrition and is a common complication of long-term heavy drinking. It’s possible to reverse the symptoms are reversible when caught early, but when left untreated, wet brain can lead to irreversible confusion, difficulty with muscle coordination, and even hallucinations.

wet brain from alcoholism symptoms and dangers

When caught early, wet brain can be treated and the effects could be reversed, but if left untreated, it can lead to lasting impairments or damage to the brain. In this article, we will explain what wet brain is, symptoms to look for, and treatment. Acute alcohol exposure interferes with the absorption of thiamine from the gastrointestinal tract at low, but not at high, thiamine concentrations . These transport steps are accomplished by one or more thiamine transporter molecules. Researchers recently have identified and cloned the gene for a human thiamine transporter .

Can Wernicke

In some cases, wet brain disease can be reversible, however, this is dependent on a few factors. A person’s wet brain symptoms may vary in severity depending on how early a person gets wet brain treatment. As with many conditions, the earlier someone gets treatment the better.

Once the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome worsens, there’s no going back. If a person is exhibiting signs of wet brain, they will need to be treated for nutritional deficiencies in a hospital. IV injections of B vitamins and magnesium can helpreverse the symptoms of wet brain. Patients may also need to stay in the hospital for a period of time, so medical professionals can adequately monitor their condition and prevent adverse health problems from alcohol withdrawal syndrome. In some instances, it may be possible to reverse the symptoms of wet brain.

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In order to get the most out of CBT, a person has to be open and honest, stick to the treatment plan, and do homework that has been assigned by the therapist. We understand that treatment is not one size fits all, so we offer other therapy options such as dialectical behavior therapy, holistic addiction therapy, group therapy, and art therapy. Cognitive therapy focuses on a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and expectations.

The problem is characterized by global amnesia and cognitive and behavioral dysfunction. Contact Nova Recovery Center today for more information on our individualized drug and alcohol addiction recovery program. Like with Wernicke’s encephalopathy, Korsakoff’s syndrome can eventually lead to coma and death. As a joint problem, both of the syndromes that make up wet brain are extremely severe and should be dealt with as soon as possible in order for the individual to be able to avoid further, serious effects. Other symptoms can include weakness in limbs, poor muscle coordination, unsteady gait, slow walking, rapid eye movements, paralysis of eye muscles, poor fine motor function and decreased sense of smell. Korsakoff syndrome is characterized by memory impairment, specifically short-term memory loss (i.e., the inability to form new memories or retain new information). Some affected individuals may also have random loss of long-term memories.

Treatment For Alcohol Addiction At Vertava Health

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  • One type of therapy we offer here at Harmony Ridge is cognitive-behavioral therapy .
  • During that reaction, two products are formed—the sugar ribose–5–phosphate and a molecule called reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate .
  • To do this, someone must acknowledge the fact that a person is suffering from an alcohol use problem in the first place.
  • As a toxic substance, drinking alcohol can damage, or even kill, neurons.

If wet brain is diagnosed and treated early, the damage to the brain can potentially be repaired. However, if it is left untreated, the brain damage could be permanent. Treating acute symptoms of wet brain involves replenishing thiamine in the body, improving nutrition, and proper hydration. This can help reduce or stop the symptoms of wet brain, but if the alcohol abuse continues, the treatment cannot be effective wet brain from alcoholism symptoms and dangers in the long-term. Although most people require a minimum of 0.33 mg thiamine for each 1,000 kcal of energy they consume, alcoholics tend to consume less than 0.29 mg/1,000 kcal . This triad of symptoms results from a deficiency in vitamin B1 which is an essential coenzyme. In about 29% of patients, ocular disturbances consist of nystagmus and paralysis of the lateral rectus muscles or other muscles in the eye.


Preventing alcohol abuse and malnutrition by eating healthy foods and drinking responsibly is the most effective way to manage a wet brain. Several FRN treatment centers treat mental illnesses and brain damage caused by drug addiction. While excessive drinking does not necessarily indicate an alcohol use disorder, more people in Massachusetts binge drink than the national average, with 21% of adults reporting binge drinking behavior in 2020. For heavy alcohol drinkers, long-term alcohol use and binge drinking can lead to lasting impairments and effects on brain function related to poor nutrition. In some cases, this could lead to a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, more commonly known as “wet brain.” What is wet brain? It is caused by a vitamin deficiency that can affect vital body systems and memory. WKS typically consists of two components, a short–lived and severe condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy and a long–lasting and debilitating condition known as Korsakoff’s psychosis.

wet brain from alcoholism symptoms and dangers

Alcohol addiction is extremely difficult to overcome on your own.. Seek specialized help and let professionals guide you in your recovery.

Can Wet Brain Be Reversed?

Patients with severe kidney disease who are undergoing regular dialysis are also prone to encephalopathy, and a substantial portion of them have been found to suffer from thiamine deficiency (Hung et al. 2001). Most people consume enough thiamine to prevent the development of this condition. However, people who struggle with alcohol use disorder may focus on consuming alcohol instead of eating a balanced diet, with whole grains and lean proteins. 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 liver stores some thiamine, although not very much, and damage to the liver from long-term alcohol abuse can prevent storage and release of this vitamin nutrient into the body. If you or a family member is dealing with alcohol abuse and are ready to take the next step towards recovery, Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is here to help.

wet brain from alcoholism symptoms and dangers

The compound containing two phosphate groups (thiamine diphosphate ) is the actual active molecule that serves as a cofactor for the various thiamine–requiring enzymes. The levels of phosphate–free thiamine in the cell are relatively low and are tightly regulated by rapid conversion to the phosphorylated forms. Transketolase is an important enzyme in a biochemical pathway called the pentose phosphate pathway. Both of these molecules are essential for the production of numerous other important molecules in the cell. Ribose–5–phosphate is needed for the synthesis of nucleic acids, complex sugar molecules, and other compounds. NADPH provides hydrogen atoms for chemical reactions that result in the production of steroids, fatty acids, amino acids, certain neurotransmitters, and other molecules. In addition, NADPH plays an important role in the synthesis of glutathione, a compound that is essential in the body’s defense against oxidative stress.

Wet brain syndrome is the combination of two related conditions occurring simultaneously. They are known individually as Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s syndrome. Researchers have yet to agree upon whether Wernicke syndrome always comes before Korsakoff syndrome and, therefore, indicates some sort of cause-and-effect relationship. Whether one condition causes the other or not, there is a recognized progression Alcohol of symptoms. Studies have found that 80 to 90 percent of people who have Wernicke syndrome go on to develop Korsakoff syndrome. Additionally, people suffering from alcoholism are less likely to consume well-rounded, healthy diets, which is how you get enough vitamin B1 into your system. It is an essential vitamin that is not produced naturally by your body, so it must be consumed from outside sources.

Thiamine is vital to many biological functions, and most importantly, it helps the body to convert food into energy. A thiamine deficiency can lead to a range of serious health complications if not corrected, as it can damage the thalamus and hypothalamus in the brain. This analysis found that the enzyme from the alcoholic men and their sons also bound ThDP less strongly than did the enzyme from the healthy volunteers and their sons .

Korsakoff psychosis causes permanent brain damage that affects memory. WKS can be difficult to detect in oneself due to the fact that there may already be feelings of shame or denial about habitual alcohol consumption. The memory loss that accompanies wet brain also compounds the inability for someone to objectively self-assess. A thiamine-rich diet should not be considered a “cure” for wet brain unless it is also accompanied if the alcohol abuse is not reduced or completely stopped. The symptoms of WE vary between people, which makes it difficult to diagnose. The coordination issues and physical effects of WE can also resemble those of alcohol intoxication, so heavy drinking may mask WE.

Risks Of Untreated Alcoholism: Wet Brain Syndrome

Contact your health care provider or go to the emergency room if you have symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, or if you have been diagnosed with the condition and your symptoms get worse or return. Vitamin B1 often does not improve loss of memory and intellect that occur with Korsakoff syndrome. It is possible to reverse the symptoms of wet brain when caught early. WE occurs before KS, and when KS symptoms start, WE symptoms tend to slow down.

wet brain from alcoholism symptoms and dangers

Various difficulties in thought processing and changes in the nervous system characterize WKS. Without early treatment, it can lead to permanent brain damage and death. Before someone can overcome addiction, that person must take the first step towards receiving professional help. To do this, someone must acknowledge the fact that a person is suffering from an alcohol use problem in the first place. That’s why it’s so important to understand the red flags that signal an alcohol use disorder.

Besides, many chronic alcoholics may be destitute or have a reduced social circle or support mechanism because of their alcoholism, which results in fewer official diagnoses of wet brain. Other investigators, however, have found no differences in the ability of transketolase from Korsakoff’s patients and healthy subjects to bind ThDP (Nixon et al. 1984). Moreover, processing of the samples being studied could have modified and deactivated the transketolase. Overall, researchers to date have found no consistent correlation between genetically determined transketolase variants and a person’s sensitivity to thiamine deficiency (McCool et al. 1993). To determine whether a genetic predisposition to thiamine deficiency and resulting brain damage does indeed exist, more detailed molecular genetic studies are required. When thiamine levels decrease, the activity levels of all three enzymes are reduced to some extent.

wet brain from alcoholism symptoms and dangers

Left untreated, alcoholism can cause numerous long-term, severe health issues, including cognitive deficits and cancer. Long-term, heavy drinking leeches and also prevents essential nutrients from entering the body. These discomforting and severe nutritional deficits are called wet brain. The following article will explore the dietary consequences of long-term alcohol abuse, and whether or not these deficits can be reversed. Wet brain symptoms usually come about because of thiamine deficiency. This is one of the many symptoms that come with intense drinking on a frequent basis. As a result of this, a person may develop wet brain disease because of malnutrition or other conditions as a consequence of alcohol abuse.

After the detox phase, it is important to continue steps toward recovery. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common path that helps you develop coping mechanisms to manage triggers or negative thought patterns.

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