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Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

A syndrome caused by thiamine deficiency. It usually occurs in alcoholics and is characterized by confusion, ataxia, and ophthalmoplegia.

Symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The following features are indicative of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome:
  • encephalopathy
  • mental status change
  • confused state
  • inability to coordinate voluntary movements
  • eye abnormalities
  • loss of memory
  • inability to form new memories
  • confabulation
  • hallucinations

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Common Causes of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The following are the most common causes of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome:
  • deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1)

Risk Factors for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome:
  • chronic alcoholics
  • males
  • malnourished

Prevention of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid drinking alcohol
  • take proper nutrition and healthy diet

Occurrence of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 30-70 years

Common Gender

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome:
  • Serum albumin Test: To check person's general nutrition
  • Serum vitamin B1 Test: To check level of vitamin B1 in serum
  • Transketolase activity in RBCs: Reduced activity found in people with thiamine deficiency
  • Liver Function Tests: To rule out other disorders with similar presentations
  • CT Scan and Brain MRI: Show changes in the tissue of the brain

Complications of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome if untreated

Yes, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is left untreated:
  • alcohol withdrawal
  • difficulty with personal or social interaction
  • injury caused by falls
  • permanent alcoholic neuropathy
  • permanent loss of thinking skills
  • permanent loss of memory
  • shortened life span

Self-care for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome:
  • abstinence from alcohol
  • proper dietary changes

Patient Support for Treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The following actions may help Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome patients:
  • Join online support groups: Provides better way to cure the symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Time for Treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 6 months - 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

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