What is Wet Brain?

In Uncategorized by Derek Swain

Wet Brain is a term used to describe Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome — a kind of brain damage that results from a lack of Vitamin B — specifically Thiamine. It is a serious medical condition that is very common for long term alcohol abusers.

Cause: People with alcoholism commonly make poor dietary and lifestyle choices which leaves their body with a shortage of nutrients. In addition, alcohol inflames the lining of the stomach which makes it difficult for the body to absorb any nutrients. Ordinarily, Thiamine helps the body use nutrients to generate energy so without it the body becomes more and more vitamin deprived.

Symptoms of Wet Brain:

Wet Brain has two stages — Wernicke encephalopathy followed by Korsakoff psychosis. These are technically considered two different conditions but someone with wet brain will develop both, so they can be considered two stages of one condition.

Stage 1 — Wernicke encephalopathy (WE):

WE is the first stage of wet brain that is caused by bleeding in the brain. It’s symptoms are:

  • Trouble with balance.
  • Irregular eye movements.
  • Poor Reflexes.
  • Rapid Heart Beat.
  • Poor Coordination.
  • Low Body Temperature.
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Trouble walking
  • Confusion or fogginess.

Very few people will demonstrate all these symptoms, and some people will have only one symptom which can make WE very difficult to diagnose.  Unfortunately, WE is very short-lived which is why 80-90% of alcoholics who develop WE will get Korsakoff’s.

 Stage 2 — Korsakoff Psychosis (KP):

KP is the second stage of Wet Brain. Its effects are very serious and will be permanent if not treated early and properly. Symptoms are:

  • Trouble learning new things.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Forgetful and easily frustrated.
  • Poor coordination and balance skills.
  • Trouble walking properly (due to balance and coordination problems).
  • Vision deterioration.
  • Mental confusion and being frequently disoriented.
  • Anterograde Amnesia: The inability to form new memories
    • Confabulation: Inventing or making up events and things to compensate for the inability to form new memories
  • A noticeable change in personality: People can become more anxious or depressed or angry.

Diagnosis: If you suspect that you or someone you love has either of the conditions mentioned above, go to a medical facility immediately and order a blood test. Wet brain is a very serious medical condition and a medical visit should not be delayed.

Treatment:  Wernicke’s encephalopathy is very treatable with thiamine and other vitamin supplements, drinking less alcohol, and changes in diet that include more vitamins and nutrients. In fact, making these changes will reverse the effects of WE and prevent you from getting Korsakoff Psychosis. But once WE progresses to Korsakoff’s, the symptoms have a chance of being permanent if the condition isn’t treated early. The good news is that treating KP requires the same things: less alcohol, thiamine and other vitamin supplements, and changing your diet to include more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Your doctor can advise you on all these factors. It is never too late.

What to Do if You Have Wet Brain:

  1. Go to a Medical Facility: Order a blood test and say you are concerned that you may have Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrom (aka Wet Brain). The doctor will ask if you are a heavy drinker. Be truthful.
  2. Attend a Medical Detox: Part of the treatment for wet brain is less alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction they should never stop drinking cold turkey without medical supervision. This can cause uncomfortable and possibly life-threatening withdrawals. However, if you do have wet brain it’s important to know that part of withdrawals is nausea and vomiting, which will further rob your body of nutrients and make your wet brain symptoms even worse. A medical detox will include 24/7 medical supervision with vitamins and medicines to keep you comfortable and safe.
  3. Attend Rehab or Therapy: If your wet brain is the result of alcohol addiction, it may not be enough to simply detox. Detox ends your body’s physical dependence to alcohol but you also need to address whatever other reasons lead you to start drinking more and more. Rehab will also teach you how to live a sober and fulfilling life and how to avoid relapsing on alcohol in the future. If you are an alcoholic, you will not be able to go back to drinking and expect to control it this time.
  4. Take Vitamins: Take daily supplements, B-complex vitamins, and thiamine. These will arrest and reverse the effects of wet brain as long as you are not drinking excessively. Because alcohol inflames the digestive tract, it is incredibly difficult for the body to absorb vitamins when you’re still drinking.
  5. Change your diet: You need vitamin-rich food so that your body can absorb the nutrients it needs.

Reclaim Your Life From Alcohol and Wet Brain:

Tree House Recovery is a men’s addiction treatment facility that specializes in holistic treatment. We believe that physical, mental, and social factors are the cause of addiction. That’s why our treatment addresses all these factors to heal the whole person. If you or someone you love needs help to quit drinking, call us at503-850-2474.