What are the Physiological Effects of Wet Brain?
Alcoholics have a tendency to suffer from a deficiency in thiamine or vitamin B1 which helps brain cells produce energy from sugar. The lack of this important nutrient can lead to serious health problems and if levels fall too low it can cause a condition known as Wernick-Korsakoff syndrome or more commonly, wet brain. Korsakoff syndrome is a problem that is most often caused by alcohol abuse but there are cases where other conditions lead to the disorder such as AIDS, chronic infections or poor nutrition.
Alcohol addiction negatively affects the brain and can lead to cognitive decline in a number of ways but wet brain is one of the most severe neurological disorders associated with alcoholism. People diagnosed with wet brain will struggle to function normally and exhibit a number of different physiological problems that can interfere with their daily life.
Alcoholism and Early Stages of Wet Brain
People who drink alcohol excessively on a regular basis often lack adequate levels of thiamine for a number of different reasons. Alcoholics tend to have poor eating habits and often vomit when binge drinking. They can also have trouble absorbing vitamins from food because alcohol damages the lining of the stomach and the liver which processes thiamine. Without enough thiamine brain cells cannot generate energy to function properly and a severe lack of thiamine can cause an acute brain reaction leading to Wernicke’s encephalopathy, an early stage of wet brain.
Wernicke’s encephalopathy can develop suddenly and cause a medical emergency with symptoms such as life-threatening brain disruption, confusion, staggering and stumbling, lack of coordination and abnormal involuntary eye movements. A person developing this problem will also exhibit signs of malnutrition and mild memory loss and if they are not treated soon enough then they can start to develop Korsakoff syndrome.
The Onset of Korsakoff Syndrome
After experiencing Wernicke’s encephalopathy, an individual will gradually develop some of the symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome. Damage will occur in small areas within the brain resulting in short term memory loss. As the symptoms of wet brain continue to develop they will show problems with learning new information and struggle to remember recent events while also experiencing some long-term memory gaps as well.
They may still have the same ability to use other types of thinking and social skills but have severe memory problems. Patients with this syndrome may be fully capable of having a coherent conversation but be unable remember having the conversation minutes later. Some people with this disorder may have trouble learning new skills because they cannot acquire any new information and recall what they have been taught. This condition can also cause changes in personality such as a patient becoming suddenly apathetic and unemotional or extremely talkative with repetitive behavior. People with Korsakoff syndrome may have little insight into their condition and believe their memory is functioning normally while even inventing memories of events that never happened.
Treating Wet Brain Symptoms
When a person with an alcohol problem is diagnosed with Korsakoff syndrome, the first step to start seeing improvements in their memory is to abstain from alcohol and go into recovery. Continuing to abuse alcohol will only worsen the condition and can put them in more danger. In addition to sobriety, a patient with wet brain will need to be given high doses of thiamine and must adopt a healthier diet with nutrient-rich foods.
People with Korsakoff syndrome can begin to see improvement if they make these changes within two years of treatment. Some patients can make a very good recovery while others may show little progress and need long-term residential care.