What is Wet Brain?

Wet brain also known as Wernicke-Kosakoff, is caused by the heavy consumption of alcohol which leads to a thiamine deficiency. Wet brain can cause serious symptoms such as hallucinations, memory loss, eye muscle paralysis, false perceptions or memories, and even death. Treatment of early stages of wet brain can lead to a full recovery.

Wet brain is a form of brain damage caused by a deficiency in Vitamin B1, more commonly known as Thiamine. Heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to Vitamin B1 deficiency which can lead to wet brain. Alcohol interferes in the absorption of thiamine and thiamine is essential for the function of the heart, muscles, and the nervous system. Thiamine helps convert carbohydrates into energy and lack of thiamine is mostly seen in people who abuse alcohol. The medical name for wet brain is Wernicke-Korsakoff and if left untreated can lead to death.


  • Short term memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Inability to form new memories
  • False perceptions or memories
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Eye muscle paralysis, unequal pupil size, and very slow pupil reflexes
  • Speech problems

Treatment depends on the damage that wet brain has caused. If wet brain has been allowed to progress too far, the best solution would be to prevent any further deterioration. For those whom are in the beginning stages of wet brain, thiamine injections may improve the individual back to full recovery. To cure wet brain syndrome it is very important to obtain complete abstinence from alcohol. It is important to diagnose wet brain before it reaches the later stages and becomes irreversible.

Due to the serious problems with memory loss, patients with Wernicke-Korsakoff are sometimes treated with medications used for Alzheimer’s disease.

How to prevent wet brain

Individuals who drink alcohol should always try to eat well and take their vitamins. Very heavy drinkers may not have an appetite and their diet only consists of liquids which is not healthy. Since alcohol makes it difficult for the body to absorb thiamine it is imperative that heavy drinkers get adequate vitamin supplements, particularly thiamine. However, the best way to avoid wet brain is to avoid alcohol or drink in moderation.

The majority of individuals who suffer from wet brain are the elderly and the homeless. Homeless people in particular can develop this syndrome without being noticed. If you know anyone who may be affected by this syndrome it is very important that they seek medical attention. Even if they do not wish to give up alcohol, thiamine supplements may help to avoid the symptoms above.

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