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What Is Wet Brain?

Alcohol addiction can lead to a variety of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. Wet brain is the colloquial term for one of the lesser-known conditions caused by chronic alcohol misuse. If you struggle with alcohol misuse, getting help will allow you to avoid the pain and long-term damage caused by conditions such as wet brain.

What Is Wet Brain Syndrome?

Wet brain describes the combination of two alcohol-related disorders — Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis. The majority of people with one condition often develop the other, so the overall medical term is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

The cause of wet brain is a lack of thiamine, or vitamin B1, which can lead to dementia or cognitive impairment. Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B1, and those with alcohol use disorder often focus on consuming alcohol rather than eating a balanced diet. This combination of factors can cause damage to the brain’s thalamus and hypothalamus, leading to severe memory problems.

Those who regularly binge drink or engage in long-term alcohol misuse are more likely to develop wet brain syndrome.

What Are the Symptoms of Wet Brain?

Wet brain is a chronic brain disorder, yet symptoms often come in stages. In many individuals, both Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s syndrome happen simultaneously. Alternatively, some may develop Wernicke encephalopathy followed by Korsakoff’s psychosis. The first symptoms of wet brain can include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Consistent nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Sudden and noticeable decrease in mental acuity
  • Amnesia
  • Uncontrollable leg twitches or spasms
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Involuntary or abnormal eye movements and twitches
  • Poor reflexes
  • Coma

The final stages of wet brain, which could indicate Korsakoff’s psychosis, include:

  • Minor or severe memory loss
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to form new memories
  • Making up stories to fill blank spots in memory
  • Both auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Agitation and anger
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to care for oneself

Wet Brain Treatment

Without treatment, the recovery and life expectancy of those with wet brain is not good. The earliest stages are usually treatable. However, the later symptoms of Korsakoff’s psychosis are irreversible and often debilitating. Although these side effects can improve with treatment, they will never be fully reversed. If you don’t seek help for wet brain, the disorder can be fatal.

When it comes to treating wet brain, the primary goals are to address the symptoms while preventing the condition from worsening. The main methods of treatment include:

  • Eliminating all alcohol from your system
  • Complete abstinence
  • Vitamin B1 injections
  • A nutritious diet that includes whole grains and lean proteins

Prevent Wet Brain With Evidence-Based Treatment at Gateway Foundation

The best way to avoid wet brain is prevention. Alcohol use disorder is a pervasive disease. Yet with personalized, evidence-based care, it is treatable. That’s what you can expect when you come to a Gateway Foundation addiction treatment center. We want to help you achieve sobriety and avoid the tragic consequences of alcohol misuse.

To learn more, reach out to us online or call 877-381-6538 to speak with a caring and compassionate member of our team.

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