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Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome: Wet Brain Symptoms & Warning Signs

Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome: Wet Brain Symptoms & Warning Signs

Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome: Wet Brain Symptoms & Warning Signs

When someone has had a few drinks, their mind may get mixed up or they may forget things.

While this is often an immediate effect of alcohol intoxication, the long-term effects of frequent alcohol abuse can be far more harmful. This type of impaired thinking may stick around even after the alcohol has left your system and could be a sign of wet brain.

What is Wet Brain?

Wet brain is a term used to describe someone who is suffering brain damage from long-term alcohol abuse. It is more formally known as Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome, which is a combination of Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome that frequently occurs together. Wet brain syndrome is often a result of thiamine deficiency from regular alcohol abuse.

What Are the Symptoms of Wet Brain?

It is estimated that 1 to 2% of the general population in the United States has Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome.1 Because the disorders can sometimes occur separately and the symptoms of wet brain can be similar to both intoxication and alcohol withdrawal, recognizing Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome symptoms can be challenging.

Some common wet brain symptoms may include:
  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Problems creating new memories
  • Distorted memory
  • Strange eye movements
  • Trouble walking
  • Inability to learn new things
The wet brain symptoms from alcoholism will get progressively worse if drinking continues until eventually the damage is irreversible. Not getting help, may eventually lead to life-threatening medical conditions.

What to Do If You Notice Wet Brain Symptoms

People with wet brain have a much better chance of recovery if they can recognize the symptoms of Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome early. If you suspect that you or someone you love has developed wet brain syndrome, see a doctor immediately. Early intervention will likely involve an alcohol detox program to wean the body of its dependence on alcohol. This is typically followed by alcohol addiction treatment to prevent relapse and stop alcohol use altogether.

While stopping alcohol abuse can prevent further damage, treatment for wet brain syndrome usually also includes thiamine replacement therapy that could last several months. Recovery may be slow, but early intervention could reverse most of the damage.

At Banyan Boca, we know that there is a fine line between heavy drinking and alcohol abuse. If you or a loved one has developed a questionable drinking habit, get help sooner rather than later. Going to our Boca recovery center at the first signs of trouble could prevent severe and lasting damage to a person’s health from alcohol abuse.

If you or a loved one has a substance abuse problem, get help. Contact us at 888-280-4763 to get started.


  1. National Organization for Rare Disorders- Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome: Wet Brain Symptoms & Warning Signs
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