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What Is Wet Brain?

Consuming alcohol is common. Wet brain is a phenomenon that can occur after drinking too much.  It is actually a form of brain damage that can occur if people consume large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time.

Wet brain is a form of brain damage that is more formally known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which can consist of Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis. It stems from not having enough thiamine in the diet, which is often due to heavy and chronic alcohol consumption.

The consumption of alcohol can limit the body’s thiamine as well as its absorption of other vitamins and nutrients, such as folic acid, zinc, and vitamin B12. This means that even beyond wet brain, alcoholism can produce a number of negative effects on the body.

Alcohol does not kill brain cells. Wet brain doesn’t reduce a brain’s gray matter. Instead, alcohol can have a negative impact on the brain’s cognitive abilities that can be irreversible.

It also isn’t a gradual form of brain damage. It can be like flipping a switch. After prolonged drinking, a rush of glucose could cause a sudden onset of the condition.

How to prevent wet brain

To prevent wet brain, you can reduce the amount of alcohol that you consume on a regular basis. It is recommended that everyone drink in moderation. No one should be drinking before the legal drinking age (twenty-one in the United States). Even then, it is recommended that men limit their drinking to a maximum of two drinks a day and women to one.

Drugs and alcohol impact people differently based on body weight, water composition, enzyme production, hormone levels, and much more. People who have had problems with alcohol and drugs and have sought help from rehabilitation centers may want to avoid alcohol and drugs entirely to avoid developing wet brain and triggering their addiction.

It is important to understand that one of the main causes of wet brain is a thiamine deficiency, which also means that the body is low on thiamine, a vitamin also known as thiamin and vitamin B1.

As people consume alcohol, it interferes with their bodies’ ability to absorb thiamine. If they realize that they are drinking significant amounts of alcohol and are addicted to the substance, they may find it necessary to visit rehabilitation centers in North Carolina and other U.S. states. By attending inpatient treatment facilities, they can learn ways to handle their addiction and move forward through life without alcohol.

It’s also important to look at the role of thiamine in the diet. It is one of the water-soluble B vitamins found in a number of different foods such as rice, breakfast cereals, pork chops, trout, black beans, and more. Cooking certain foods can also reduce their thiamine content. This is why it’s common for doctors to recommend taking vitamins and other supplements that contain thiamine.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is identified as one of the most severe neuropsychiatric health problems that occur as a result of alcohol abuse. Thiamine supplementation is critical when a person has a history of alcohol abuse as a way to prevent this health disorder.

Additionally, the European Federation of Neurological Societies has identified that oral thiamine supplements may not be sufficient. In many instances, it is recommended that people receive thiamine intravenously to drastically reduce the signs and symptoms of the disorder.


Symptoms of wet brain

It’s important to understand the symptoms of wet brain. This will allow you to identify them within yourself or within others.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Problems with muscular coordination
  • Inability to form new memories and loss of memories
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Claims of remembering events that never happened
  • Changes in vision

Many of these symptoms occur because the body is being deprived of thiamine. Additionally, alcoholism often introduces excess glucose into the body. Often, heavy drinkers are malnourished because they are more focused on drinking than they are about eating balanced meals. Many will eat a lot of sweets without eating vitamins or other foods. These dietary choices, plus the sugar in alcohol itself, sends glucose into the body and contributes to wet brain.

What happens after a wet brain diagnosis?

If there is a diagnosis of wet brain and a person has Wernicke’s encephalopathy, quitting alcohol is a good idea. But the problem with a wet brain diagnosis is that there is no cure. The likelihood of recovering entirely may be unlikely.

At this point, the goal would be to prevent Korsakoff’s psychosis. To do this, doctors and nutrients could suggest diets that are rich in nutrients with a heavy focus on thiamine.

Time can be a huge factor. As a person goes longer without alcohol and continues to build up their reserves of thiamine, they may find that some of the symptoms have been drastically reduced.

After all, there are two stages of wet brain. If a person receives treatment for encephalopathy and more thiamine, their prognosis could be better. However, if this condition goes untreated, it’s only a matter of time before they progress into Korsakoff’s psychosis. Once this happens, there is no reversal. People can only treat their symptoms so they are as comfortable as possible.

People who consume alcohol on a regular basis can develop various health problems. The good news is that there are various addiction centers that can help people treat alcohol addiction and restore vitamins and nutrients to become healthier in many ways.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 

Sources – Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome – How Alcohol Affects Nutrition and Endurance – Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol – Thiamin – EFNS Guidelines for Diagnosis, Therapy, and Prevention of Wernicke Encephalopathy – Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome Information Page

Dr. Sanjay Maharjan, MD
Dr. Sanjay Maharjan, MD
MD in Basic and Clinical Physiology


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