Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a serious brain disorder. It can develop over time in people who drink too much alcohol. Symptoms include blurred vision, rapid movement of the eyes, and difficulty walking. The syndrome is a combination of two conditions: Wernicke syndrome and Korsakoff syndrome.

Wernicke syndrome is caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. It has symptoms such as blurred vision. This may go away if the person stops drinking and takes thiamine supplements.

Korsakoff syndrome is caused by changes in the brain that result from long-term alcohol use. It has symptoms such as confusion and memory loss. The memory loss is often of recent events. This can often lead the person to make up events to fill the memory gaps. This is known as confabulation. The effects of Korsakoff syndrome may be permanent.

Treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome includes:

  • Thiamine supplements.

  • Good nutrition.

  • Drinking enough water to maintain body fluids (hydration).

  • Not drinking alcohol.

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