Man with face in his hand, thinking about wet brain syndrome

What Is Wet Brain?

Wet brain syndrome (WBS) is a rare and severe condition affecting brain function. It is often correlated with long-term alcohol misuse. How does alcohol cause wet brain syndrome, and how can you tell if someone has this condition? Keep reading to learn more about WBS, how to prevent it, and how it can be treated.

Alcohol use disorder can be detrimental to your overall health. Protect yourself from the long-term side effects of alcohol misuse by enrolling in alcohol detox at Promises Brazos Valley. We offer a full range of treatment options to meet your individual needs. Call us today at 979.426.0086 to schedule an intake assessment and receive a personalized treatment plan for alcohol use disorder.

What Is Wet Brain Syndrome?

Wet brain syndrome, also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), involves loss of muscle coordination, changes in vision, confusion, and hallucinations. The side effects can become permanent if the condition is not treated early. 

WBS is a brain condition caused by thiamine deficiency. Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is an essential vitamin, meaning that the body does not produce it, and you must obtain it through your diet. So, what does this have to do with alcohol misuse?

Heavy drinking can deplete the body of B vitamins, including thiamine. Malnutrition and malabsorption—common in those with alcohol use disorder—can also lead to vitamin B1 deficiency. 

Symptoms of Wet Brain Syndrome 

Wet brain syndrome can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Memory loss
  • Lack of concentration
  • Disorganization
  • Impaired decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • Impaired reasoning and judgment
  • Difficulty with social interactions

The symptoms of WBS can be classified by the specific conditions that lead to them:: Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis. The former is characterized by confusion and loss of coordination, while the latter relates to learning and memory issues. They can co-occur, or Wernicke’s encephalopathy can precede Korsakoff’s psychosis.

How Is Wet Brain Treated?

Since wet brain syndrome is caused by thiamine deficiency, the primary course of treatment involves high doses of thiamine. Your provider will offer either oral or intravenous thiamine supplementation to help replenish your thiamine levels. 

If your condition is due to heavy alcohol use and you need help to quit drinking, you will benefit most from medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Medications can help control the symptoms of wet brain syndrome and prevent them from worsening. Some common types of medication for WBS include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Mood stabilizers

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is also helpful for treating WBS. This therapy helps people break down negative thought patterns that may contribute to their condition. It also helps them deal with stressors that could be exacerbating their symptoms.

If physical symptoms like loss of coordination disrupt your daily life, you may work with an occupational therapist and incorporate assistive technology devices to help with work or household tasks.

Can You Prevent Wet Brain Syndrome?

Wet brain syndrome is a severe condition that can be prevented and treated if addressed early. A few things you can do to reduce your risk of WBS are:

  • Reduce or eliminate your alcohol consumption.
  • Take a daily thiamine supplement.
  • Eat foods rich in thiamine, such as lentils, sunflower seeds, fish, green peas, and yogurt.

If you start to notice symptoms of WBS but find it difficult to cut back on drinking, enroll in treatment for alcohol use disorder to help minimize your symptoms and prevent them from worsening.

Reduce the Risk of Wet Brain Syndrome at Promises Brazos Valley

Cutting alcohol out of your life can help protect you from WBS. Find the support you need to overcome alcohol addiction and lead a sober lifestyle by contacting Promises Brazos Valley today at 979.426.0086.

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