What You Need to Know About Wet Brain

a doctor educates a patient on the symptoms of wet brain caused by alcoholism

Uncontrolled drinking and alcohol addiction can lead to devastating mental and physical conditions. Liver disease, depression, and kidney damage can all stem from alcohol abuse. But did you know serious impacts on your brain can occur as well? Wet brain syndrome is a severe condition with dreadful consequences. Keep reading to find out what to know about wet brain.

Trying to cut back or stop drinking is hard when you become physically and mentally dependent on alcohol. Quitting cold turkey can also be dangerous due to the withdrawal symptoms alcohol abuse can trigger. Northpoint Recovery knows how important it is to build the foundation of a sober future before walking the road to recovery. Our evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment program can help equip you with the tools you need to succeed in sobriety. Call 425.414.3530 today to get started.

What to Know About Wet Brain

Wet brain is the common term for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS). It’s a condition often caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency and excessive alcohol consumption. When left untreated, wet brain syndrome can lead to severe complications.

There are two primary types of wet brain syndrome. Wernicke’s encephalopathy (WE) is acute wet brain syndrome. Korsakoff’s syndrome is chronic wet brain syndrome. Korsakoff’s syndrome is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms mimic other conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Wet Brain Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of wet brain syndrome can be difficult since they are typically broad and common across other disorders.

Signs of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy

The most common symptom of WE is ataxia, which is a loss of muscle coordination. This loss can cause problems with balance and make it difficult to walk. Other symptoms of WE include:

  • Confusion
  • Vision problems
  • Paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Problems with speech and understanding

Signs of Korsakoff’s Syndrome

Experts characterize Korsakoff’s syndrome by the amnesia it causes. This form of wet brain syndrome can make it difficult to form new memories. People with Korsakoff’s syndrome may also experience:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Problems with muscle coordination
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

Risk Factors for Wet Brain

While there are other factors for wet brain syndrome, one of the most significant causes is uncontrolled alcohol use.

Alcohol Abuse

People who abuse alcohol are at a greater risk of developing wet brain. Alcohol abuse is drinking large amounts of alcohol regularly. Binge drinking, which is consuming four or more drinks in two hours for women and five or more drinks in two hours for men, can also lead to wet brain.

Other Factors

Other conditions can also put people at risk of developing wet brain. Other causes include:

  • Hepatic encephalopathy – This is a condition that can occur when the liver isn’t functioning properly. It can lead to a vitamin B1 deficiency.
  • Anorexia and bulimia nervosa – These disorders can also lead to a vitamin B1 deficiency.
  • Cancer – Cancer and cancer treatments can also lead to a vitamin B1 deficiency.

Diagnosing Wet Brain

Wet brain is a serious condition that can be difficult to diagnose. If you or someone you know has been drinking excessively, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and seek medical help.

A doctor will likely ask about your medical history and alcohol consumption. They may also administer tests, including:

  • Thiamine levels – Low thiamine levels can indicate a deficiency.
  • Imaging tests – An MRI or CT scan can help rule out other conditions.
  • Neuropsychological testing – This can help assess cognitive function.

Treating Wet Brain Syndrome

The first step in treating wet brain is to stop drinking. This step is essential to prevent further damage. If you have trouble quitting, seek professional help.

Treatment for wet brain typically focuses on managing symptoms and replenishing vitamin B1 levels. Treatment may also include:

  • Intravenous thiamine – This can help replenish vitamin B1 levels.
  • Multivitamins – Taking a daily multivitamin can help prevent a vitamin B1 deficiency.
  • B-complex vitamins – These can help improve cognitive function.
  • Anticonvulsants – These can help control seizures.
  • Antipsychotics – These can help manage psychosis.

Recovering from Wet Brain

Wet brain is a serious condition that can be difficult from which to recover. However, recovery is possible.

Treatment can help improve symptoms and replenish vitamin B1 levels. However, it’s essential to stop drinking to prevent further damage. Recovery is a long process, but it’s possible to heal the brain and live a sober, healthy life with treatment and support.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Seattle

Now that you have learned what to know about wet brain, it’s time to determine if you need help. Working to prevent the long-term effects of alcoholism, like potentially developing wet brain syndrome, starts with sobriety. At Northpoint Seattle, we offer evidence-based treatment programs that work to help you achieve and maintain sobriety, including:

  • Outpatient program – The outpatient program is our most basic form of addiction treatment. Here, our patients attend therapy at least once a week to develop the skills they need to overcome their addiction. If you have a good handle on your recovery and need additional support to continue your sobriety, this is a good program.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP) – IOP is a more intensive form of treatment for those who need a higher level of care. IOP offers a few hours of therapy per day, three to five days a week. This program provides our patients with the structure and support they need to remain sober and build the tools they need for long-term recovery.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP) – Our PHP program is the most intensive of our addiction treatment programs. This program offers full days of therapy and group sessions while still allowing you to return home at night. This level of care is great for those who need more structure and support in their recovery journey.

Don’t wait to take control of your future. Contact us by calling 425.414.3530 or completing our online form today to get started on the road to recovery.