How Long Will Someone Live After Being Diagnosed With Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome?
Have you ever heard of the term “wet brain?” While it’s an interesting and informal expression, it describes a very serious illness related to alcohol abuse that can potentially decrease your life expectancy.
What Is “Wet Brain?”
Wet Brain, technically called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, is a combination of two different conditions with varying symptoms that usually occur together. Wernicke’s encephalopathy is the first stage of this illness, which has less severe symptoms. 80 to 90 percent of people with Wernicke’s encephalopathy form Korsakoff psychosis, which is more of a serious brain complication. This issue can be a long-term complication that is often associated with alcohol abuse.
This syndrome is also referenced as “alcohol-related dementia” because the mixture of the two disorders cause dementia-like symptoms. It can be extremely harmful when it goes untreated, so it’s important to know the risks and signs of wet brain.
Who Is At Risk For Wet Brain?
The group that is most likely to develop wet brain is those with long-term alcohol abuse. This is because Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is triggered by a thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency, which can be caused by overconsumption of alcohol.
This deficiency can also be caused by malnutrition, anorexia, AIDs, certain types of cancer, and specific surgeries. Therefore, even people who don’t have an alcohol addiction have a chance of developing this syndrome.
A small fraction of the population is currency diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, with the most vulnerable group being men aged 30-70.
Wet Brain Side Effects
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome typically starts with signs of brain damage, followed by symptoms of psychosis. The symptoms of wet brain, which tend to get more severe over time, are similar to those of dementia.
Side effects of wet brain may include:
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Leg tremors
- Vision changes
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Appearing drunk
- Loss of mental activity
- Loss of memories/inability to remember
- Making up stories to replace memories
- Experiencing hallucinations
In addition to these symptoms of the disorder, wet brain can cause more intense complications down the line.
Wet Brain: What Other Health Problems Can It Cause?
If left untreated, wet brain can cause issues such as:
- Heart problems
- Low blood pressure
- Permanent nerve damage
And, unfortunately, the effects of wet brain can even lead to coma or death. The symptoms can take a toll on an individual, which ultimately may decrease their life expectancy.
What Is The Life Expectancy of Someone With Wet Brain?
There is no cut-and-dry life expectancy for someone with wet brain; some people completely recover from the syndrome, while others deal with symptoms for the rest of their lives due to the brain damage. If someone will see improvement, it will typically happen within the first two years of diagnosis or treatment. Approximately 10 or 20 percent of people with Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome will not survive if the issue goes untreated.
How To Treat Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
The bad news is that recovery can take years; but the good news, which perhaps outweighs the bad news, is that the treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is perhaps better than dementia treatment.
Wet brain treatment may require alcohol abstinence, thiamine or magnesium supplements, and physical or occupational therapy. Treatment should be administered at a medical center or rehabilitation facility.
Preventing Wet Brain
The main way to prevent wet brain, obviously, is to avoid drinking alcohol frequently or in high doses. It also helps to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine.
To learn more about how alcohol addiction may lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, contact our team of substance abuse professionals by calling 866-345-2147.