It’s is a chronic condition that can develop if Wernicke encephalopathy is not treated promptly. In addition to this biological factor, many alcoholics have lifestyles that can contribute to thiamine deficiency, such as a poor diet lacking mush brain in essential nutrients. Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as irregular eating or eating low-nutrient foods, as is common for people in active alcoholism, can exacerbate the thiamine deficiency caused by consuming too much alcohol.

One of the more devastating effects of chronic alcohol abuse is something referred to as wet brain. It is actually two diseases under the term “wet brain syndrome,” with each disease caused by alcohol-related thiamine deficiency. Because heavy alcohol abuse is a key cause of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, to recover and prevent the disorder from worsening, it is important to stop heavy alcohol use. However, stopping when you are dependent on a substance is not always so easy.

Is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome the same as Wet Brain?

Specific actions of thiamine
on a cellular level then are reviewed, followed by a discussion of how alcohol
affects the body’s processing and availability of thiamine as well as
thiamine utilization by the cells. Finally, the article explores the hypothesis
that people may differ in their sensitivity to thiamine deficiency and that
different brain regions may be more or less sensitive to a deficiency in this
important nutrient. Thiamine deficiency is particularly important because it
can exacerbate many of the other processes by which alcohol induces brain injury,
as described in other articles in this issue of Alcohol Research & Health. Alcohol can have a serious long-term impact on the brain and even damage cognitive functions.

  • Residential programs, like inpatient rehabs, provide housing and meals during the treatment period.
  • While thiamine deficiency can happen to people with poor diets, it is more common in those who drink heavily over the course of many years.
  • Vitamin B1, or thiamine, deficiency is the cause of this serious disease.
  • However, the term „wet brain“ carries and perpetuates stigma by inaccurately conveying that people willfully contract it.
  • We can help you explore various addiction treatment options and find the best one for you.

Moreover, processing of the samples being studied
could have modified and deactivated the transketolase. Overall, researchers
to date have found no consistent correlation between genetically determined
transketolase variants and a person’s sensitivity to thiamine deficiency
(McCool et al. 1993). To determine whether a genetic predisposition to thiamine
deficiency and resulting brain damage does indeed exist, more detailed molecular
genetic studies are required. When thiamine levels decrease,
the activity levels of all three enzymes are reduced to some extent. The specific
reductions depend both on the enzyme and on the cell type studied (Singleton
and Martin 2001). Overall, transketolase activity may be the most sensitive
measure of thiamine deficiency.

Why Does Thiamine Deficiency Cause Wet Brain?

At this point, if the disease is recognized and immediately treated (generally with a series of thiamine injections) it is possible for the effects of the disease to be reversed and for the patient to regain normal functioning. 7.4% of people 12 years and older have tried ecstasy at least once in their lifetime. Learn why is ecstasy addictive and the suggested treatment for addiction. The long-term effects of this disease can range from difficulty with personal interactions and injuries caused by loss of coordination to coma or even death.

  • There are two distinct phases in the progression of wet brain or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.
  • The specific
    reductions depend both on the enzyme and on the cell type studied (Singleton
    and Martin 2001).
  • You might find that they can narrate an ordeal to you in detail an hour after it happens but cannot remember it a few days later.
  • Approximately 6.2% of Americans aged 18 years old and older meet the clinical criteria for alcohol use disorder.
  • Administering high doses of thiamine is the first course of action when treating wet brain because the brain severely lacks the nutrient.

The first step is detox, which is ceasing alcohol consumption, so the substance works its way out of the body. This can be a dangerous process, especially if you have developed wet brain. Approximately 80 to 90 percent
of alcoholics with WE develop Korsakoff’s psychosis, a chronic neuropsychiatric
syndrome characterized by behavioral abnormalities and memory impairments (Victor
et al. 1989). Although these patients have problems remembering old information
(i.e., retrograde amnesia), it is the disturbance in acquisition of new information
(i.e., anterograde amnesia) that is most striking. For example, these patients
can engage in a detailed discussion of events in their lives but cannot remember
ever having had that conversation an hour later. Because of these characteristic
memory deficits, Korsakoff’s psychosis also is called alcohol amnestic

Nervous and Cardiovascular System Issues

This refers to Wernicke’s encephalopathy and the subsequent Korsakoff’s psychosis that follows if the disease is allowed to worsen. Wet Brain is primarily a condition that impacts people who have abused alcohol for long periods of time, however it can also be caused by poor nutrition or from prolonged periods of vomiting due to sickness or other causes. Many types of substance abuse cause physical health issues based on the effect the substance has on the body. Often, these issues are based on nutritional problems caused either by the metabolism of the substance or by changes in appetite produced by the substance. 10.2% of Americans aged 12 or above have developed Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Similarly, as per the reports by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are about 138.5 million Americans who are active alcohol users.

  • The citric acid cycle and α–KGDH
    play a role in maintaining the levels of the neurotransmitters glutamate, gamma–aminobutyric
    acid (GABA), and aspartate, as well as in protein synthesis.
  • While wet brain isn’t curable, early detection can help treat symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
  • Your body can’t produce thiamine on its own—it has to be ingested through your diet.
  • Alcoholism is a disease that can cause long-term damage to a person’s health, relationships, finances, loved ones and future.

In many ways, a person struggling with alcohol addiction and showing symptoms of second-phase wet brain acts much like someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Based on statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 90 percent of alcoholics suffering from stage 1 symptoms go on to develop stage 2, with some overlap between the stages and symptoms. Each part of our body needs thiamine to function properly; without it, there is a good chance of dysfunction. When our brain does not get enough thiamine, it cannot convert the sugar into energy for our bodily functions.

When most people think about drinking-related problems, they picture car accidents, fights, and run-ins with the police. But problem drinking can also lead to a range of severe and sometimes irreversible health problems. The more someone drinks and the longer someone drinks without quitting, then the higher their risks of developing cancer, liver damage, sexual dysfunction, and nutritional deficits. Brain damage from alcohol abuse occurs when a person drinks heavily and for many years. Those with an alcohol use disorder and other health issues that make thiamine absorption difficult or impossible are at risk of wet brain.