wet brain syndrome

It’s estimated that 15 million people in the U.S. struggle with an alcohol use disorder. Problem drinking can lead to a wide range of problems such as legal trouble, worsening mental health and physical problems. One of the issues that can result from repeated drinking is ‘wet brain’ or ‘wet brain syndrome,’ a term that refers to two different but related conditions: Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis. 

Wernicke encephalopathy is a type of cognitive impairment caused by a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. Every tissue in the body needs this vitamin to function. However, since the body doesn’t naturally produce thiamine, you have to get it from the foods you eat. Korsakoff’s psychosis is a complication of Wernicke encephalopathy and causes symptoms like confusion, behavioral changes and memory deficits. 

Let’s learn more about wet brain, the signs to look for, and how alcohol rehab can help. 

What is Wet Brain Syndrome? 

Wet brain is a disorder of the brain that results from a thiamine deficiency. It’s most common in people who have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), though it can happen to anyone. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 80 percent of people with an AUD have a thiamine deficiency. 

Men are more likely to develop wet brain than women, probably because more men are diagnosed with AUDs. While wet brain does cause significant behavioral and cognitive changes, it is possible to reverse the effects. However, a person will need to seek treatment at an Arizona alcohol rehab and abstain from drinking. 

Characteristics of Wet Brain 

How can you tell if someone has wet brain syndrome? After all, it can be confusing since problem drinking can cause cognitive changes as well. This is why many people aren’t sure what they are dealing with. Is it confusion from the alcohol, or confusion from something else? 

One of the telltale signs that you’re dealing with wet brain is if the person is confused when they’re not under the influence. Pay attention to how you or your loved one acts when sober. Here are some signs to watch for: 

  • Memory loss
  • Double vision 
  • Difficulty with coordination
  • Abnormal eye movements 
  • Loss of body heat 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Eye muscle weakness 
  • Droopy eyelids 

Dangers of Not Treating Wet Brain 

Wet brain is treatable in the early stages. Doctors typically recommend thiamine supplements to alleviate symptoms and prevent disease progression. If you are in an alcohol treatment center in Arizona, you can also work on eating a healthier diet that gives your body essential B vitamins.

Without treatment, wet brain will progress into Korsakoff’s psychosis, which is fatal. At this stage, symptoms include delirium, fatigue, severe memory loss, an inability to form new memories, hallucinations and difficulty paying attention. Korsakoff’s psychosis is persistent, chronic and irreversible. 

As long as you catch wet brain syndrome early, the prognosis is generally positive. However, you will need to stop drinking and eat a healthy diet with thiamine-rich foods. Wolf Creek Recovery is an alcohol rehab in Prescott Arizona that offers comprehensive treatment for AUDs. Contact us today to learn more – your phone call can save a life!