Josh Chandler | November 12, 2018

What is Alcoholic Wet Brain Syndrome and Can You Get Over It?

The possibility of developing wet brain syndrome is just one of the risks associated with alcoholism. Find out if you’re in danger and what to do about it.

Alcohol abuse has become more prevalent in recent years. In fact, 65 million Americans reported binge drinking in a month which is 40% of all alcohol users.

With these behaviors becoming normalized, the amount of alcohol-related deaths and car accidents are constantly brought up in the news. But one thing that doesn’t make headlines often enough are brain diseases, like wet brain syndrome that stem from overdrinking.

If you think you or a loved one may have this disease or a drinking problem that can possibly cause it, you will want to follow along with this article. The information in it may even help save a life.

What Exactly is Wet Brain Syndrome?

Wet brain or Wernicke- Korsakoff’s Syndrome (WKS) is a type of brain damage that’s brought on by long-term and excessive drinking. In fact, this illness falls into a sub-category of brain damage called alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD.)

What Causes It?

Thiamine or Vitamin B1 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps the body transfer carbohydrates to energy. The body needs it in order to have a healthy heart, nerve, and muscle function. It is also necessary for brain function.

Thiamine is highly common in foods like eggs, potatoes, beef, and nuts so it isn’t very often that the average person ends up with a deficiency. However, severe cases of alcoholism put people at risk.

This can happen for a few different reasons. One is that when a person’s focus is on drinking alcohol, they are hardly ever worried about eating a balanced diet with all the nutrients they need.

Another is that alcohol can cause nausea, loss of appetite, and upset stomach. These symptoms can stop a person from eating at all. And if they are followed by vomiting, any nutrients that may have been eaten end up lost.

One of the biggest causes of wet brain is a lack of thiamine over an extended period of time.

How Do I know if I or Someone Else Has Wet Brain?

Like dementia, wet brain is a cognitive disease that will worsen over time. Although every patient is different, it is likely that a person with wet brain will also develop Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s syndrome.

In many cases, Wernicke encephalopathy comes first and is then followed by Korsakoff’s psychosis. But it can happen the other way around as well.

You should certainly receive an official diagnosis from a doctor. But here are some symptoms that come in the early stages of wet brain syndrome:

  • Very quick weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Constant vomiting
  • High carb intake
  • Reduced BMI (body mass index)
  • Malnourishment

Wernicke Encephalopathy

As mentioned before, Wernicke encephalopathy often develops after wet brain. Sometimes the symptoms that show early on are mistaken for alcohol withdrawal or even drunkenness.

Those symptoms include:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Leg twitches or spasms
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia

As Wernicke encephalopathy continues to develop, more serious symptoms can arise. Such as:

  • Dementia
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Extreme or prolonged confusion
  • Abnormal eye movements

There may even be a severe decrease in muscle strength and tone. Both can make it difficult to stand or walk without assistance.

Korsakoff’s Psychosis

Korsakoff’s Psychosis significantly affects a person’s memory.

Not only do they lose old memories they’ve had, they can lose their ability to form new memories. This is especially true during the later stages of the illness.

These issues are results of the brain tissue becoming more and more damaged with time.

More symptoms can include:

Inappropriate Emotional Reactions: A person might be completely disinterested in things happening around them, whether the surroundings are calm or chaotic. They may also lack concern for bad things that happen to them personally.

Fabricated Memories: Not only will real memories begin to fade, but fabricated memories may also come into play. This is usually to try to fill in forgotten gaps of time.

Keep in mind that a person who is displaying this symptom believes the memories are real.

Talkativeness: It is normal for a person to become extremely chatty. They may repeat the same stories or phrases and even try to strike odd conversations with people they don’t know.

How is Wet Brain Diagnosed and Treated?

Chronic drinking and bad eating habits create an environment where wet brain syndrome can develop and progress. But how do you really know if you have it?

Doctors can go about diagnosing this illness in different ways. For example, they can evaluate a patient’s symptoms and lifestyle habits to come up with a diagnosis.

But a brain scan may also be performed. The purpose of the brain scan is usually to confirm that the illness is there and to determine whether it’s in its early stages or not.

While there isn’t a cure, it is best to seek treatment early on. Early treatment can slow down the progression of the disease, helping patients hold on to more memories and bodily functions.

Treatment may even keep a person from dying as a result of wet brain.

So, How Does Treatment Work?

Treating wet brain often starts with making some life changes. If you are still abusing alcohol at the time of diagnosis, it is important that you stop.

Of course, doing so isn’t always an easy feat. The withdrawal process can make you feel miserable and it can put you at risk for other illnesses and injuries.

This is why it’s best to go through this part of your treatment at a detox program. This way, you will have access to around the clock medical staff in addition to medications that can help numb some of the symptoms.

In this type of rehabilitation facility, you will also benefit from counseling to get to the root of your problem, which will make you more likely to stick with your sobriety plan.

Additionally, major dietary changes are required to help you feel better and slow down the progression of wet brain. To supplement the healthier foods you begin to eat, your doctor may also prescribe Vitamin B1 and other supplements.

While you may not get 100% over wet brain, you can still live a full and healthy life with it.

Start Treatment Today

Neither alcohol or wet brain syndrome have to control your life. There is still time to start over and receive the treatment you deserve in a healthy and supportive environment.

Contact us today to learn more about the programs and bright future we can offer.

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