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What Is Wet Brain Syndrome?

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Long-term, heavy alcohol use can lead to a condition known as wet brain syndrome. This condition progresses through several stages, so the sooner you seek treatment for your alcohol use disorder (AUD), the better. To find out if you are at risk, and to learn more about what wet brain syndrome is, continue reading. 

What is Wet Brain Syndrome?

The clinical diagnosis for wet brain syndrome is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Wet brain occurs when long-term alcohol misuse, including binge drinking, causes a deficiency of Vitamin B1. 

Alcohol alters the body’s ability to absorb Vitamin B1 naturally and creates a deficiency. As a result, the hypothalamus and thalamus do not get this essential vitamin. Therefore, these brain structures begin to deteriorate.  

How is Alcohol Abuse Connected to Wet Brain?

Two stages occur with this syndrome: Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis. During the first stage, alcohol prohibits the absorption of Vitamin B1, which is found in many foods we eat. 

As food goes through the digestive system, alcohol causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, preventing the abortion of this vitamin. When the body digests Vitamin B1, it converts the vitamin into thiamine, an essential nutrient used throughout the body.  

Secondly, the thiamine reserves are gradually depleted as the body is not digesting new sources of it. The hypothalamus and thalamus use thiamine to aid in memory, processing information, and other mental functioning. 

Once wet brain advances to the second stage, the thiamine stores are depleted. It is at this point that permanent brain damage can start to occur. 

Signs and Symptoms of Wet Brain Syndrome

The signs and symptoms of wet brain syndrome do change as the condition progresses and worsens. 

Stage 1 Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms one experiences in the first stage of wet brain syndrome include: 

  • Loss of Coordination
  • Rapid Weight Loss
  • Double Vision
  • Decreased Mental Capacity
  • Rash/Impulsive Decision Making
  • Leg Tremors
  • Frequent Vomiting
  • Prolonged Periods of Confusion
  • Irregular Eye Movements
  • Drooping Eyelids
  • Insomnia
  • Poor, High Carbohydrate Diet

Stage 2 Signs and Symptoms

The second stage of wet brain syndrome is when brain damage begins. So, the signs and symptoms of brain damage start to become more apparent, such as:

  • Visual Hallucinations
  • Short-Term Memory Loss
  • Making Up Stories in Place of Memories
  • Unable to Store New Memories
  • Auditory Hallucinations
  • Coma 
  • Death

Can the Effects of Wet Brain Syndrome Be Reversed?

Someone suffering from AUD must seek treatment when they suspect they are developing first-stage wet brain syndrome. In this first stage, it is possible to reverse all the effects with the proper addiction treatment plan and medical treatment plan. 

Yet, when AUD is left untreated, the chances of recovering from wet brain syndrome decrease. As the condition progresses into the second-stage wet brain, it becomes more difficult to reverse the brain damage and effects of long-term alcohol misuse. 

How is Wet Brain Syndrome Treated?

Treatment for first-stage wet brain syndrome will include receiving Vitamin B1 supplements to jump-start replenishing the diminished supplies of thiamine. However, for treatment to be successful, one must abstain from alcohol and stop drinking. 

Therefore, the person needs AUD treatment that offers medically supervised detox. As soon as the person completes detox and all alcohol leaves the body, it can start to absorb Vitamin B1, replenish thiamine reserves, and heal the damages of stage one wet brain. 

With second-stage wet brain syndrome, one could be left with permanent brain damage where they will continue to have memory problems, learning difficulties, and other diminished mental functioning. However, several effective treatment methods do help to partially reverse the effects of stage two wet brain, including:

  • Daily Vitamin B1 Supplements
  • Maintaining a Nutritious and Well-Balanced Diet
  • Never Drinking Alcohol Again

Even when a person has been medically diagnosed with stage two wet brain, it can be very challenging for them to stop drinking. They may be fully aware of what alcohol is doing to their brain, but the cravings and addiction to alcohol are so powerful that all that matters to them is being able to drink. 

Unfortunately, the way an alcoholic behaves often does not make sense to their family and friends. However, you should never lose hope or give up on your loved one. You could even get help staging an intervention from a qualified interventionist. 

Once your loved one does decide they need help, treatment would be similar to stage one wet brain with medically supervised detox and Vitamin B1 supplements. 

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder in Orange County, CA

Now that you know what web brain syndrome is, you can take the first steps to recovery. When you do, you can avoid the dangers of permanent brain damage with medically supervised detox and treatment for alcohol use disorder at Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, CA. 

We provide a caring, supportive, and safe environment with personalized treatment options to help you maintain your sobriety long-term. 
For further information or to start your AUD detox and treatment, visit our admissions page and speak with an intake specialist today!

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